Out of the fire and into the Phillies fan jersey


Photos by James A. McBride

phillies1-webPhillies’ director of season ticket sales, Derek Schuster, and the Phillie Phanatic honor John Paul II teacher Marie Murphy for her dedication to the ball club, on Thursday, Sept. 16, at a school pep rally. Below, school students and staff cheer for their teacher, as she wipes away tears.

STRATFORD — A Philadelphia Phillies Pep Rally almost brought the house down here at John Paul II Regional School on Thursday, Sept. 16, to support a teacher whose own house was brought down by fire last spring.

The pep rally for students and staff held in the school auditorium was planned after the baseball club heard about the fire at Marie Murphy’s Gloucester house last April, when the fifth grade teacher ran into her damaged house and saved her Phillies’ season tickets.phillies2-web

Murphy went back into the house — under the direction of the fire marshal — to retrieve her insurance papers. Coming back out, she told her husband that she “didn’t know where (the insurance papers) were but I do know where the (season) tickets are.”

To lift her spirits, the Phillie Phanatic, Phillies announcer Jim Jackson, and Phillies director of season ticket sales, Derek Schuster, surprised her with a Jayson Werth Phillies Jersey, a commemorative ticket of Game 5 of the 2009 World Series (held at Citizens Bank Park), and a photograph of the ballpark signed by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

After being presented with the items by the Phillies and school students, Murphy was led by the Phillie Phanatic through the audience as cheering students, clad in Phillies red and sporting green Phanatic foam hands, saluted their teacher.

Murphy, who has taught at the school (formerly St. Luke) for 40 years, knew about the Pep Rally, but not that she was the guest of honor. “I’m totally shocked,” she said. “I want to thank everybody.”

The Cares and Concerns committee at John Paul II, which helps students and school staff through hardships, notified the Phillies about Murphy’s situation and her love of the baseball team. Murphy is currently living with her husband and mother in a motel near her damaged house, which is expected to be rebuilt by the end of October.

The rally was set up “to raise her spirits,” Helen Persing, school principal said. “Something to brighten her day.”

As far as Murphy is concerned, the day was one out of the park.