R.I.P. Bryan Murray: Beloved hockey exec was also baseball star

 Longtime hockey executive Bryan Murray passed away from cancer on Sunday. Photo Credit: Sun Media File Photo

Longtime hockey executive Bryan Murray passed away from cancer on Sunday. Photo Credit: Sun Media File Photo

By Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

Bryan Murray's legacy is hockey but few people know that he was a pretty decent baseball player growing up in his hometown of Shawville, Que.

The English enclave across the river from Pembroke, Ont. and not far from Ottawa is where Murray wound together his passions for baseball and hockey.

"Bryan threw right and I threw left. We'd take turns pitching,'' his brother Bill was saying in an interview Monday night. "He was good enough that he could have turned pro as a baseball player, not as a hockey player.

"He wasn't a home run hitter but he was a good hitter. He could really lay down a bunt. He was very competitive. When he wasn't pitching, he played third base.''

The Murrays played together for the Shawville Pirates in the Pontiac League and then went to play for the Pontiac Selects based out of Bryson. In 1966, they played for Fort Coulonge, Que. in what Bill called the "Ontario league'', the North Renfrew Senior baseball League. Bryan also pitched for the NRSBL's Pembroke Pirates in the late 1960s.

Murray, 74, died Aug. 12 after a battle with colon cancer. Murray was a coach or general manager with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Florida Panthers, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators. He prepared for the pro ranks by coaching junior hockey with the Rockland Nationals, Pembroke Lumber Kings and Regina Pats.

Bill Murray said there will be a funeral service for his brother at the United Church in Shawville on Aug. 22 at 1 p.m. Then on Aug. 22 at 1, a Celebration of Life is scheduled for the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ont., home of the Senators. A death notice sprinkled with humour can be seen online. It dulls the sadness of losing a great sports figure.

I have old Ottawa Journal clippings from interviews I did with Murray when he coached the Nationals and Pats. Condolences to his family.

Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com