Brandon Guyer: A Fearless Bet For A Lifetime

  • Name: Brandon Guyer
  • Age: 27
  • Organization: Tampa Bay Rays, Durham Bulls

Author: Patrick Kinas, DNAOfSports.com creator.

It began as a $50 bet.

It ended in marriage.

What happened in between is a story of sports, love and timing for Tampa Bay Rays and Durham Bulls outfielder Brandon Guyer and Lindsay Murphy, with a little bit of Hollywood mixed in.

"There's no way you'll ask. I'll bet you $50! You'll wimp out!"

Those were the words of Virginia Cavalier shortstop Greg Miclat, and they were directed at his best friend and teammate Brandon Guyer back in 2007 on The Grounds.

Guyer had seen her on TV. He was mesmerized by her looks. He had seen her at the field a few times. A single conversation they had never had. But that was about to change.

Lindsay Murphy is "her". A James Madison grad. A basketball player, a consummate sports fan, and the daughter of a duck pin bowling champion, Murphy's life intersected with Guyer's when she was breaking into the sports broadcasting business as a weekend anchor at NBC29 in Charlottesville, Virginia after being a producer for the nationally syndicated George Michael's Sports Machine.

Guyer, a top professional baseball prospect under Head Coach Brian O'Connor, was steamrolling through his junior season with the draft just a few months away. Already a known entity on the field, Guyer gained additional attention thanks to a 26-game hitting streak that season. That got the attention of the sports department at NBC29, and Murphy was assigned the story and hoped in the car heading to Davenport Field.

Guyer had a couple of days notice about Murphy coming to do the interview, and Guyer started devising his plan to ask Murphy, whose only true interaction with Guyer was from his TV screen, out on a date. Reckless or fearless? Guyer's buddies never thought he'd gain the nerve to actually execute the plan, and deep down inside, Guyer knew it was likely going to be a complete debacle.

"In no way did I ever think she'd accept," Guyer recalled.

That fateful interview day finally arrived, and Guyer had mapped out his tactics like a military commander. The interview began innocently enough. Introductions, small-talk, and some simple baseball talk involving Guyer's pre at-bat rituals. From there, Guyer led a willing Murphy into the batting cage and helps Murphy lay down a few bunts against the pitching machine.

"She wanted to see me hit, and then try it herself," Guyer said. "She wanted to know all of the secrets of UVa hitters."

Guyer then threw her some front tosses, with Murphy killing a few pitches. From there, the sit-down portion of the interview began, cameraman in tow.

Murphy jumped right into the teeth of the interview, leading out with a hardball question. "So are you fearless or just reckless?"

To understand that question is to understand Guyer's style of play. While Guyer's resume would include All-State recognition in football and baseball, a tooled future major league outfielder, Guyer was also known as a player who would challenge earth, walls and geared-up catchers in order to make a play to help his team win. As a result, Guyer has dislocated his shoulder three times, dealt with a stress fracture in his elbow and currently has seven anchors in his left shoulder after surgery last June.

As Guyer was quickly contemplating how to answer Murphy's question, the astute Guyer realized that wording might give him an opening. Fearless? But Guyer is all about timing, and tabled his retort and simply responded to the question. But Guyer kept that term secretly placed in his back pocket.

After the interview ended, Guyer dawdled around while Murphy and her colleague talked, mentally hoping he could shoo away the cameraman with his commands. A moment later, he did. Guyer knew this was his moment. Complete embarrassment or a total victory. Guyer's immediate future would have just one of two options.

With palms sweaty, Guyer stepped to the plate. "So Lindsay, would it be fearless enough for me to ask you out on a date right now?," said a confident, yet even stunned Guyer that he actually went through with it.

Before Guyer's heart rate could hit the top of the charts, Murphy turned him down. The decline was professionally handled said Guyer, but he had run through walls, fences and catchers before, so he wasn't about to give up hope after just one query.

"I saw it coming, but I also saw it as a challenge," Guyer recalled. "When we talked during the interview, I felt like we had a connection. It was a weird feeling. I was going to do whatever I could to get this girl. I was going to keep trying to pursue."

A few days later, Guyer was approached by the sports information director (SID) for baseball at UVa that Murphy wanted to ask a few follow-up questions, but she had his email address wrong and Guyer never received them. Guyer got her work number through his SID and called her a few days later, privately hoping she had changed her mind.

"I didn't really care that she had more questions," Guyer said. "She was all I thought about. I didn't get a hit for days."

They talked on the phone a few times. Follow-ups to the interview, yes, but over the next few weeks they talked more frequently leading up to the draft. Finally, Murphy acquiesced and accepted Guyer's request for a date.

Their first date was fairly traditional. They shared their nerves and food at a local restaurant for dinner, with Guyer opening every door for Murphy. The strong connection remained for Guyer, and began for Murphy.

Soon after they started dating, Guyer was drafted in the 5th round by the Chicago Cubs and sent to Rookie-Ball in Arizona. Their budding relationship immediately switched from regular dinners at Charlottesville restaurants, to long-distance. This lasted a couple of seasons, with Guyer returning to Charlottesville to be with Murphy when baseball season ended.

Meanwhile, Murphy's career was on the ascent as well. As Guyer climbed the Cubs' minor league ladder, in 2009, Murphy was offered a job in the Washington, D.C. market with the Fox affiliate (Fox5DC). The Guyer-Murphy match was being relocated.

As their relationship continued to evolve and become more serious, the planning-man Guyer had one more idea. Initially, Guyer was sketching out a surprise on-air proposal to Murphy at the end of one of her sportscasts, but it wasn't approved by station management. Not to be deterred, Guyer came up with a back-up plan. Guyer always has a back-up plan. Guyer had connections with a couple of Murphy's colleagues at the Fox5DC, and the station had received an early release copy of The Blind Side on DVD. Into the studio Guyer went, to record that special greeting for Lindsay.

Christmas Eve, 2009. Guyer and Murphy were enjoying a quiet night at their apartment, getting ready to watch The Blind Side. The movie began, the opening credits rolled, and all is normal. Until the DVD cuts away to a Fox 5 Breaking News graphic appearing on the screen. As the graphic dissolved, there was Guyer, dressed up on screen, with a simple message for Murphy.

"Would it be fearless enough to ask you to marry me?"

They would be married a year later.

Fate is a funny thing in life. Guyer would be traded from the Cubs to the Tampa Bay Rays ahead of the 2011 season, and Guyer was called up for the first time to the major leagues on May 6th, 2011. The Rays were playing Baltimore. At Camden Yards.

Lindsay was anchoring the sports segment that night at 6pm, hoping she could beat traffic to get to Camden, which is about 30 minutes from the Fox5DC studios. With the Orioles pre-game ending on radio, and with the Rays as the visiting team, Lindsay knew there wasn't much time to spare. As she pulls into the media parking lot, it happened. Brandon came to the plate for the first time in his major league career in the second inning. Listening in her car, Lindsay heard the crack of the bat and the silence inside the stadium filled with 20,694 Orioles fans. Guyer just became the second Rays player ever to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat.

The Guyers continue to dovetail their lives in the professional sports world, remembering their roots, fearlessly planted on The Grounds of Charlottesville.

Greg Miclat was one of Guyer's groomsmen, and Guyer never got the $50.

But Guyer did get the girl.

(Photo courtesy: The Guyer family.)



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