Dedication pays off for PRCC’s newest Hall of Famer, Jim Murphy

Dedication pays off for PRCC’s newest Hall of Famer, Jim Murphy

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Finding someone who worked harder than Jim Murphy during his time at Pearl River presents quite the challenge. The Shelbyville, Kentucky, native spent many long nights at the batting cages, where he'd even pull up his truck and turn the lights on to see to hit into the early morning hours.

An All-State, All-Region and JUCO All-Star selection, Murphy is set to be enshrined in the Pearl River Community College Athletics Hall of Fame presented by Keith's Superstores on July 28 at Hollywood Casino & Resort in Bay St. Louis. Murphy joins a 2023 class that includes baseball's Dr. Thomas Royals, football's Craig Franklin and women's basketball's Norma Noel. The recipient of the Spirit of a Wildcat award is Francis Herrin. 

"It's a really cool honor," Murphy said. "I've got young boys, and they're baseball players. The first thing I thought of was that it was a really cool experience for them to see their dad get an award like this. 

"It's awesome that the school acknowledges someone that's been away for so long. I feel honored." 

The path to Pearl River from Kentucky was a unique one for Murphy. Although he led the state in hitting during his senior season, he was overlooked by some of the bigger schools and ended up at Eckerd in St. Petersburg, Florida. After a productive fall season with the Tritons, scouts brought the JUCO route to Murphy's attention. 

"I had a really good fall at Eckerd, and a couple of scouts grabbed me and said that if I stayed there, I'd have to wait until my junior year to get drafted," Murphy said. "They told me that if I played at a JUCO, I could play high-level baseball and have a chance to get drafted or get picked up by a larger university."

At that time, another Shelbyville native, Charles Clifton, had just been drafted by the New York Mets directly out of Pearl River. A brief call with Clifton allowed Murphy to set up a phone call with then-PRCC coach Ned Eades. 

"I talked to coach Eades for maybe 20 minutes. He was telling me that PRCC played a demanding schedule. He said that in the fall, we'd play big-time schools, and in the spring, we'd play 60 games," Murphy said. "He was a new coach trying to ramp up the program. He told me he needed a first baseman, and he'd love to have me.

"I wasn't enjoying my experience at Eckerd, so I told my coach that I was leaving and going to Pearl River. I packed my bags and drove from St. Petersburg straight to Poplarville — sight unseen."

Murphy's first season at The River was a challenge. Joining a new program at the mid-year point meant there was an adjustment period. The Wildcats also had another player in his position, which forced him into a platoon role early on. PRCC finished the 1983 season with a 36-14 record. After the year wrapped up, Murphy returned to Kentucky to play summer ball, where he and his team went on to win the Kentucky summer league championship.

Ahead of his sophomore campaign, Murphy really started to hit the weight room, and it was hard to say that anyone worked harder than him. Especially because, on numerous occasions, campus police had to shut down his late-night batting practices.

"I was the kind of guy that the security guards would call the president up and say there was a kid at the baseball field with his headlights on at the batting cages at two in the morning," he said. "That was me. I was extremely dedicated to it, and I worked really hard."

All of Murphy's hard work certainly paid off as he turned in a remarkable sophomore campaign, hitting .393 with nine homers to earn all-state and all-region honors. After the year wrapped up, Murphy headed to play in Mississippi's JUCO All-Star Game, where he played third base at the request of a handful of Major League Baseball scouts. 

With the June MLB draft inching closer, Murphy and Eades were waiting on the big call. 

"After the All-Star Game, Coach Eades and I were waiting on the draft. The rumor was that I would get drafted by the Phillies out of Pearl River," he said. "I had done some workouts for them. I remember being on pins and needles over the first few days of June. We thought I'd get drafted, but it didn't happen, which was a real shocker and bummer."

When it was time to pick a next destination, Murphy was fully convinced that he was headed to play at Florida for Jack Arnold. The Gators had an All-American first baseman then, and Arnold was sure to tell Murphy that he may not see regular playing time at first base until his senior season.

Murphy headed back to Kentucky with full intentions of signing with Florida until he got a call from coach Keith Madison at Kentucky.

"Coach Madison called and said he had watched what I did at Pearl River, and he'd love to have me at Kentucky," Murphy said. "He said I was an in-state guy and it would be unacceptable for me to go to an SEC school other than Kentucky.

"He invited me and my parents to campus. We went there that summer, and the campus was beautiful. He sat down and said that they had an All-American first baseman, but he'd move him to right field, and I'd be guaranteed to bat third and play first base. He sold me after all that, and I signed with Kentucky."

After graduating from Kentucky, Murphy began working for a copier and facsimile dealership but found himself unhappy and looking for the next possibility. He was interested in aviation, which dated back to his time at Pearl River when he took an ROTC class with a former Army helicopter pilot. Murphy met someone who was a fighter pilot in the Air Force, and they convinced him to go out to the base and look around. That's when everything changed for him.

"He got me into the seat of a fighter jet, and when I lowered myself down into the cockpit, I had one of those experiences you don't get that often," he said. "I think it was God's way of placing me. I just knew that's where I belonged."

Murphy joined the Air Force and rose to the top quickly, getting selected to go to Phoenix, Arizona, to learn to fly F15 jets. 

"It was a life-changing experience. I was able to be around high-performance people, and I became a fighter pilot," Murphy said. "I could only do it because of my baseball background and training. It enabled me to compete in that pool. I think that's why I became a really good fighter pilot.

"It was because of my spatial orientation, work ethic, and the grind that I experienced at Pearl River and Kentucky."

During his time in the Air Force, Murphy created a business model called flawless execution based on everything he had learned while going through fighter pilot training. In 1996, he launched a company named Afterburner which uses fighter pilot tools and techniques in companies and organizations. He has since trained more than two million people, written eight books, and taught at Harvard and MIT. He has also worked with 14 NFL teams and big corporations. 

Pearl River Community College recently started a tradition of honoring past championship teams at its annual Athletics Hall of Fame banquet. This year, PRCC is recognizing five championship anniversaries.

This year's recognized teams will be the 2002-03 women's basketball team that won the Region 23 championship; the 2002-03 men's basketball team that won the MACJC title; the 2012-13 men's and women's soccer teams that won both the MACJC and Region 23; as well as the 2012-13 men's basketball team that claimed the MACJC Championship.

Members of the championship teams who would like to join in the festivities are asked to contact PRCC Coordinator of Alumni Services, Mary Alice Chandler, at or 601-403-1193 to receive 50% off their tickets.

Tickets for the banquet and golf tournament are ONLY available in advance, either by visiting or by contacting Coordinator of Alumni Services Mary Alice Chandler at or 601-403-1193.

No tickets will be sold after July 13. Guests will not be able to purchase tickets at the door.

Sponsorship packages are available for both the banquet and golf tournament.

The banquet has two tiers of sponsorships, the $2,500 Maroon Sponsorship and the $5,000 Gold Sponsorship.

The Maroon Sponsorship includes eight banquet tickets, 20 beverage tickets, two rooms Friday night at Hollywood Casino and advertising at the banquet; the Gold Sponsorship features one four-person golf team, four rooms Friday night at Hollywood Casino, eight banquet tickets, 20 beverage tickets and advertising at the banquet.

There are several sponsorship opportunities for the golf tournament as well. PRCC is offering $100 hole sponsorships (which include a 24x18 sign next to the tee box), $300 longest drive or closest to the pin sponsorships, $500 awards ceremony sponsorship and $500 beverage sponsorship.

PRCC is also accepting items for the silent auction and food for the golf tournament.

To secure your sponsorship package or donate to the event, contact Mary Alice Chandler at or 601-403-1193.

Know a former Wildcat who you believe should be considered in the future? Nominate by visiting or visiting and clicking the nomination form link at the top of the page.

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