Resident’s life bracketed by the sports he loves
For most of his life, Lyle “Dean” Murphy has enjoyed athletic pursuits.
The Lawrence, Kan., native and longtime resident of Wichita Presbyterian Manor “couldn’t have been more than 10” when he started playing baseball. He played on a Junior Legion team until the age of 17.
After that, Dean suited up for the semi-professional teams the Lawrence Colts (“I sat on the bench for a year”) and the Lawrence Merchants.
On one memorable occasion, the Merchants manager, a well-known local baseball player, asked him to pitch. The only problem? Dean was an outfielder, and he threw a lot of balls.
As it happened, Dean’s older brother was the catcher. He was more annoyed by Dean’s poor performance than their general manager, who trotted out to the mound to pull the outfielder from the game.
“With a smile on his face, he said, ‘Here Dean, I’ll take the ball,’” Dean recalls.
His baseball career didn’t end when he enlisted in the Air Force — Dean played on the team at Larson Air Force Base, where he was stationed before serving overseas. They competed against teams representing other military bases in Washington as well as Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah.
After his military service, Dean returned to Lawrence to work with his father, who owned a farm implements business. After two years of studying business at the University of Kansas, Dean took a job with a company that soon asked him to transfer to either Kansas City or Wichita.
That’s what brought Dean to south-central Kansas in 1958. He went on to work for Farmers Alliance Insurance, then Ohio Casualty. For a few years, Dean and a friend were partners in an auto shop business. That’s when he began playing a new sport: golf.
As a child, Dean and his brother would hunt for lost golf balls around the course near their home outside Lawrence. At the golf course owner’s insistence, they sold their spoils directly to the owner, who resold them to players at a profit. The brothers earned pocket money that way until they were old enough to do farm work.
As an adult, golf “was a way to get away from the job for a little bit,” Dean said. “The people I played with were all in body shops or insurance, and of course we always had a few friendly bets on how the game would come out.”
He took several golf trips with friends, including to Palm Springs, where they played all four courses that were once used for the Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Dean, who has been a member of the Presbyterian Manor community for seven years next month, still plays a round occasionally, though less and less. He has enjoyed playing with his great-grandson Scottie, who, like Dean, is a baseball player and left-handed golfer.
“It’s a game you can play from nine to 90,” he said.