Christmas came early in the Murtha household this fall when Sayville’s multi-sport superstar Brock Murtha officially signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Notre Dame.
“I am beyond excited to play for the Irish! It has been a dream of mine since I was 5 years old,” said Brock Murtha, one of Long Island’s top baseball and football players. “My family is Irish and the history and tradition of ND is amazing.”
Brock led all Long Island high school players in home runs last spring and pitched a no-hitter in Sayville’s Long Island Class A championship win over Clarke. The dogpile celebration on the pitching mound was one for the ages.
“I really couldn’t breathe under there, and for a second I panicked, but it all was over quick and it was really cool that all the fans rushed the field like that,” said Brock, who signed on in November to play at Notre Dame. “It was amazing that Barstool Sports picked up the story. That is something I will never forget.”
This fall, Brock as a two-way starter led the Golden Flashes to a Suffolk County Division 3 football title and earned Newsday All-Long Island honors. In October, the senior tallied 201 all-purpose yards and caught the go-ahead touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining in Sayville’s come-from-behind, 28-27 win over division rival East Islip.
While Brock knows he may have played his last football game, he hasn’t quite killed the dream of suiting up for the Fighting Irish on Saturdays in the fall.
“I have been playing football in Sayville since first grade,” he said. “In my perfect world, I will get to play baseball and football at Notre Dame, but it is too soon to tell.”
On the baseball diamond, Brock hopes to play infield and pitch, but added that he will “play wherever they want to put me.”
“Notre Dame is one of the few programs where you don’t have to be pitching only,” said Brock, who was also recruited by Duke and his grandfather’s alma mater Boston College. “I really love playing infield, so hopefully that will work out for me.”
Brock knew that in order to play for Notre Dame, his performance in the classroom needed to match his performance on the field.
“I knew it was a very tough school to get in to. I know sports help, but I was repeatedly told grades were most important,” he said. “I took that to heart and worked hard in the classroom. I didn’t want to let anything mess up my chances.
“There are so many incredible things about ND, but I think the history and traditions of the school are what I like best,” Brock continued. “The school spirit there is incredible. It’s like its own little community in the middle of nowhere — I can just see myself fitting in.”
Describing Notre Dame’s South Bend, Indiana, campus, Brock noted that “it almost didn’t feel real” when the baseball coach took Brock on a tour of the baseball facilities and campus.
“I had seen it in movies, but it was surreal to actually be there,” he said. “My first visit was in January of my sophomore year. It was actually snowing when we were on the tour.
“I remember having butterflies when we saw the football stadium and ‘Touchdown Jesus.’ It’s just a beautiful place,” Brock added.
For Brock, the only downside of growing up and playing college sports at Notre Dame is no longer playing with his Sayville friends and coaches.
“It’s hard to imagine not playing with the kids I grew up with, and have played with since little league and PAL,” he said. “Also, I have had some of the greatest coaches out there, including my Dad. I will be forever grateful for my youth coaches who all taught me to love the game.”
Brock said he will be forever grateful to then-Sayville varsity baseball coach Ryan Cox for giving Brock the opportunity to play varsity baseball in eighth grade.
“That was a big risk he took, and I wanted to prove to him he made the right call,” said Brock, speaking of Cox, who is now the athletic director at Patchogue-Medford. “I took it hard when he left, but he will always be my mentor.”
Brock said he is also immensely appreciative to the mentoring he received from current Sayville baseball coach Joe Esposito and football coach Reade Sands.
“Coach Espo has been not only a coach, but also a friend — I will forever die laughing when I think of the game we both got kicked out of a game and were watching from the bushes,” he said. “And then there is Coach Sands. I admire this guy so much. He has more on his plate than anyone I know, but gives 110% to the football program and really cares about us not only as athletes, but as people.”
Through all of his success in high school, Brock has been most inspired by his 4-year-old cousin Teddy’s battle with brain cancer.
“He is the happiest little kid I know. He loves face-timing me, tackling me, and coming to my games when he can,” he said. “With all the crap he goes through, he keeps plugging away with a smile on his face. It is impossible not to smile when you see this kid. I think of him before every competition and hope I am always someone he can look up to.”
Check out this clip of Brock verbally committing to Notre Dame last year: