Owen Murphy is no stranger to a crowd of people watching his every move.
Throughout his senior season at Riverside-Brookfield, Murphy had a large number of Major League baseball scouts and fans attend his games.
Sunday night’s crowd was a tad bit different.
Surrounded by family, friends, teammates and former coaches, Murphy patiently waited to hear his name called in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft. When it was announced he was selected with the 20th pick in the first round by the Atlanta Braves, Murphy put both hands to his face to cover his emotions while he was mobbed by his family to celebrate the moment.
Murphy, a two-time Suburban Life Baseball Player of the Year and Notre Dame signee, was among four pitchers selected by the defending World Series champions on the first day of the draft.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Murphy, the 2021-22 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, said he was overwhelmed getting picked by the Braves. Murphy, a right-hander, entered the draft projected to be a first- or second-round talent as a pitcher but a later draft pick as a hitter.
“I knew that the Braves had some interest in me,” Murphy said. “I knew that they liked me, but I didn’t expect to be taken that early. It caught me by surprise and caught my family by surprise, but I’m really happy about it. I’ve loved the Braves’ organization.
“I kept up with their World Series run last year. It’s so exciting to just be a part of this. It’s just surreal.”
Murphy, who had a 9-0 record with a 0.12 ERA to go with four no-hitters and a .548 batting average with 18 home runs in his senior season, said he plans to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball. Murphy verbally committed to the Irish early in his sophomore season.
“I want to play professional baseball, so saying goodbye to [Notre Dame] will be hard, but I think I’m gonna be able to do it,” Murphy said.
Riverside-Brookfield coach Dallas Till said his program experienced a double dose of good news when former Bulldog Ryan Cermak, a sophomore outfielder at Illinois State, was chosen in the second round with the 71st pick by the Tampa Bay Rays. Cermak, a 2019 Riverside-Brookfield graduate, batted .340 with 19 home runs and 43 RBIs this season. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Lyons graduate Mike Walsh, a right-handed pitcher, was selected in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Till said watching Murphy become the highest selection in program history was a special moment.
“I stopped over at Ryan Cermak’s house before [the draft] and wished him good luck and went to Owen’s house for the draft,” Till said. “Owen’s house was loaded with players from his travel organization, coaches, friends, relatives and people who love him. He was very relaxed for someone in his position. I don’t think anybody had an idea about his selection until it was about to happen. He was pleasantly surprised to go at No. 20 to the Braves.
“He was super excited and is ready to get to work. It was great seeing all his hard work through the years come to fruition. It was a fabulous moment. The Braves loved him.”
Till said he brought his children to Murphy’s draft party to experience the once-in-a-lifetime moment.
“Owen experienced such joy in that moment,” he said. “It was so fulfilling for me and my children. It was a moment Owen and those around him will never forget. The Braves got a steal at 20. His ceiling is off the charts.”