A Special thanks to Joe Lombardi, from The Journal News who kindly offered us the use of his articles to encapsulate our memories of Charlie Murphy.
About Charlie Murphy
Charlie Murphy, was a true lacrosse pioneer who helped Yorktown High School grow into one of the nation's premier hotbeds for the sport. He helped found the Cornhuskers boys team in 1965, and the school has gone on to win six state titles, 25 sectional titles and has produced numerous High School and College All-Americans, Professional and World Team players, and coaches at all levels of play.
And yet, Charlie Murphy never coached a single Yorktown High School lacrosse game!
Instead, Murphy’s love of the sport and generosity helped transform a fledgling grass-roots operation into a nationally recognized high school lacrosse program. He was a positive force on so many young lives that he will always be known endearingly in the Yorktown community as Mr. Murph.
Shortly after forming a club lacrosse team at Yorktown in 1965, Jim Turnbull met Murphy, and became the program's first varsity head coach.
Turnbull, a former teacher and the school's first lacrosse coach, recalled that shortly after Yorktown established the program in 1965, he was told a resident wanted to help out. "Initially, I was hoping to get a goalie stick out of him," Turnbull said. Instead, Murphy furnished the coach with a $500 check, enough to outfit the entire team for its first season.
"He made a financial contribution to the team and we became friends," said Turnbull. "Later that year, he opened his house up to the kids where they could practice and play, and it's was that way ever since.”
Despite a sometimes gruff exterior, Mr. Murph gave everything that he had to Yorktown lacrosse and its participants. He donated tens of thousands of dollars to the program, and literally hundreds of Yorktown players were the beneficiaries of new equipment.
But more than the money, Charlie Murphy will always be fondly remembered for opening the doors of his White Hill Road home to 40 years of players. From the time they were children, many of them came over to practice their game on his property, watch tapes of memorable games or tap into his expansive wisdom about the sport or life in general.
He would also treat his visitors to snacks and chewing gum.
"I doubt very much if there's one single individual in any single community in the state that has been more responsible for the success of a program than Mr. Murphy has been with the success of lacrosse at Yorktown," said Fox Lane athletic director Tom Caione, whose son, Matt, was an All-America midfielder at Yorktown.
“He is certainly the one continuing force all the way through,” Turnbull said. “He¹s always been there. Generation upon generation of kids have gone to his house, and some of them come back with their kids now.”
A lifelong bachelor, Murphy was born June 19, 1912, in New York City to Jeremiah and Anastasia Murphy. After being raised in the city, he earned a bachelor's degree in history from Princeton University in 1934.
It is at Princeton where he played lacrosse and developed his lifelong passion for the game. Turnbull said “after his playing experience at Princeton, it was one of Charlie’s dreams to popularize lacrosse at the high school level.”
Mr. Murph is enshrined in three Halls of Fame, including the United States Lacrosse Hall of Fame in Baltimore, the Hudson Valley Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame.
The Yorktown School District honored Charlie by renaming its main athletic complex in his honor and the annual game between crosstown rivals Lakeland/Panas and Yorktown is also named after him.
For most of his working life, Charlie Murphy was employed at a family-owned plumbing business in Manhattan, J.L. Murphy, Inc. He also served in the Army from 1943 to 1946. He moved to Yorktown in 1963, as he had been familiar with the town since his family had already owned a summer home there.
"He was often profane in his greetings to people," said Turnbull. "But he was certainly generous to a fault, and he has been the one constant to the program. There's been five coaches but (only) one Charlie."
Charlie Murphy (Mr. Murph) will forever be known as the Father of Yorktown Lacrosse.