Fallbrook’s Clark Murphy realized his dream of becoming a professional baseball player when he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2008. Due to an unexpected tragedy, his career has been temporarily put on hold because Clark has stepped up to a leadership role within his family to care for his younger brother who remains hospitalized after a head-on collision last month on State Route 76 at Gird Road.
“[The Texas Rangers] had Clark on the first flight back to San Diego and he was home within five hours [of the accident],” said his father, Jim Murphy. Clark wasn’t surprised by the immediate responsiveness of the Rangers, he said.
“The Rangers have always said that if you are part of their organization, then you’re part of the family; now I know from first-hand experience that what they say is true – down to the last word.”
At the time of the accident, Clark’s younger brother, Conrad Murphy, a senior varsity player for Valley Center High School, was on his way to baseball practice. Conrad has been working hard in hopes of following in his older brother’s footsteps and hoped to play at the next level some day. On April 23, Conrad was hit head-on by a truck carrying liquid and dry pesticides on State Route 76 in Fallbrook. He sustained life-threatening injuries included damage to the upper brain, a broken neck, broken pelvis, punctured lung, and multiple lacerations over his entire body. Jim said people in the hospital’s trauma unit thought he was not going to make it. He said, “You know it’s bad when the doctor tells you that they’re not as worried about his broken neck and other severe injuries as much as his brain trauma.”
The Murphy family, including Clark, has steadfastly stayed at Conrad’s side. The family has positioned an RV in the hospital parking lot so that they can rotate being with Conrad 24 hours a day.
Currently (one month after the accident), Conrad is said to be out of the coma he was in, but is not in a full state of consciousness.
Clark says his brother is now able to listen to commands, squeeze hands, and throw a ball. He is also able to open his eyes and track movement.
“They have moved him to the rehab floor, which is a huge step since the accident only happened four weeks ago,” said Clark. “He responds to family [members] and friends, and reacts when doctors and nurses try to stimulate him. This is just a great sign of what he is able to do. He has a very long road ahead of him, so these little things are extremely encouraging.”
Jim believes Clark’s presence and the Rangers’ willingness to allow him to be with his family has “been a Godsend.”
“He was able to come in and take on a leadership role for our family; interact with the doctors, represent us for the media, and also work with Conrad,” Jim explained. “Conrad responds to his brother; the boys are really close.” The Murphys were told by Conrad’s doctor that it is crucial for Conrad to have family support during his recovery process.
Jim owns an environmental clean-up company and is accustomed to being in charge and making quick decisions after emergencies to minimize problems. He works with chemists, engineers and hazardous materials specialists and is known for his calm demeanor. However, when Conrad was tragically injured, Jim found himself struggling to cope with the severity of the situation, the details that needed to be attended to, and taking care of other family responsibilities.
“My wife and I have had such a hard time through all this,” Jim said. “I would talk to a doctor who would give me information and I couldn’t remember what it was by the time I got to the door. I would leave to take my younger daughters to school and forget where I was going.”
“Clark really stepped in and became the man of the house,” Jim continued. “He was able to talk to the rehab doctor and help his mother. There was a time during the first couple weeks when I didn’t know what direction I was going. His mom was also going through what any mom would go through with a son lying in the hospital as severely injured as Conrad has been. Clark was able to be a stronghold for his mom and help her keep a positive outlook.”
In addition to interfacing with his brother’s doctors and the media on behalf of the family, Clark had the presence of mind to get prayer chains going for Conrad.
“Clark has shown the maturity of a 50-year-old as far as keeping a rational thought process at a time when his mom and I haven’t been necessarily able to do that at times,” Jim said.
When Clark asks his brother if he wants him to come back he gives a positive response.
“He’s now able to give a ‘thumbs up’ sign and is able to hold up one finger for ‘yes’ and two fingers for a ‘no’ response,” explained Clark.
As Clark continues to assist his brother, he regularly expresses his appreciation for his team.
“My team has been great; they understand family comes first,” he said. “They told me to take as much time as needed until my brother is healthy. I don’t think I could play knowing my brother is not well.” His father is grateful as well.
“We are thankful for the Rangers,” said Jim. “When I called Steve Flores, the scout that drafted him, I could hardly get the words out, but he understood and he said he’d take care of it. Clark was home within five hours. I was really thankful for that and the fact that they said he could stay home until next year’s spring training if needed. They said they’d take care of it and they did.”
Meanwhile, Conrad’s hip and neck are healing, and he is off the respirator, but Clark knows his brother’s recovery will not be a fast one.
“It’s a slow process, but it’s steady,” said Clark. “We just ask that people continue to keep us in their prayers, because God is listening.”