Prior to Japan's quake, that Friday afternoon was rather quiet in the Murton household. Matt Murton, his wife, and his two kids were living quietly in their 19th story high rise in Kobe, Japan. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the afternoon of March 11th was clearly one of the biggest shocks he and his family had ever experienced.
The family gathered post-quake in fear of their lives and future. As many Americans vacationing or residing in one of Japan's four islands were quick to head back via plane to home sweet home, Matt Murton did just the opposite.
During the 2010 Nippon Professional Baseball season, Matt Murton felt a different type of shock. Following a professional baseball career in the States in which he bounced around from team to team, Matt Murton decided to take his talents to Japan.
A new life, a new career, a new job, a whole new expierence. 5,000 miles and dozens of signatures later, Murton was ready to begin his stint with the Hanshin Tigers. Little did he know what he was in for.
A religious man, Murton has always believed in his abilities through God. He trusted what he believed in and continues to do so to this day. As Matt spent hour after hour post-quake helping victim after victim, he made it clear that going to Japan was his destiny. He made it clear that following what he believed in was the right move.
Matt Murton knows what a shock is. He's experienced it on and off the field. As tens of thousands of Hanshin Tigers fans were chanting his name daily, it was only fitting that he would give the fans what they asked for. Murton didn't become a sensation in Japan for nothing. During the 2010 season, his first and only season so far in Japan, Murton became only the fourth player in NPB history to record 200 hits in a single season. Ichiro Suzuki at the time held the record for most in a single season, at 211. Murton's determination and passion for doing what he loved didn't hold him back one bit. He passed Ichiro's hit record.
Twas an October 5th night when Murton approached the plate with confidence. Awaiting his pitch, he knocked the 2-0 pitch up the middle for a base hit. Calm and collected at the plate, Murton strolled out of the box in style and headed to first base as almost 30,000 fans at Tokyo Stadium cheered for him. With a tip of his cap, that signaled it was time to get back to business -- And it sure was time.
A hero in Japan, Murton knew his place. It didn't matter what nationality he was, Murton was revered and respected by not only the baseball fans in Japan but the non-baseball fans as well. And as the clock struck 2:00 and the disaster was on it's way, Murton was prepared no matter what.
One could only imagine the threatening *boom* the earthquake made. Shortly after that *boom* Matt and his family did the best to comfort one another. Outsiders to such a catastrophe and country, the Murtons did all they could to assure each other it would be okay. Matt didn't just do that -- He touched the lives of several thousand more.
Of course, at the time he was completely unaware of what happened, he looked towards the sky and made several prayers suggesting that the Japanese people in suffering did the same. Matt insisted that he and his family remain in Japan. He wasn't a quitter. A minor league journeyman and a bench player or fill-in guy bouncing around from organization to organization year after year in America was just a microcosm of the will Matt Murton has always had. He wasn't about to just give up. He wasn't going to leave behind the hundreds of thousands that supported him throughout his brief 2010 stint in Nippon Professional Baseball.
As days of misery and grief of the citizens of Japan has passed, it signified another day of an unprecedented amount of lives touched by Matt Murton. The time he spent aiding those in need and contributing to the Red Cross showed dedication. Something similar to a guy leaving his comfort area to go to whole new country and spending day after day in the cages with the idea in mind that he was going to eclipse Ichiro's 211 hits record. With his family certainly not in the backdrop, Matt continued to provide help where needed during the ongoing rough times with the strong voice he provides. Alas, things sure aren't and weren't easy for him during the bedlam-esque disaster either. With an uncounted number of priorities on his mind, Matt did it all. Matt found a way to keep his family satisfied as well during the continuing hard times. He impacted more lives than he would ever imagine.
Following the devastating and horrific quake that's still affecting many, Murton, an outsider, became an instant hero. It was only months after he became a hero on the field. Those same people chanting "Matt! Matt! Matt!" at the October 5th game against the Swallows were some of the same people he helped inspire following the quake. Getting those in need back on their feet by spending morning through night offering words and advice and doing what he could, it became clear to Murton that he made the right decision traveling overseas to Japan. He's made various donations. He's spent day after day offering words of wisdom and prayers to all. He's spoken to many seriously affected by the quake. He's physically helped people get back on their feet.
Offering a helping hand to whomever sought one and huddling up his family in his shivering arms after the disaster had struck -- That's Matt Murton -- A hero on and off the field.
Thanks to Patrick Newman for inspiring me to write about Matt Murton.