Former Staples soccer standouts headed to state Hall of Fame
First it included starring in Westport’s highly successful youth program. Then came capturing FCIAC and state championships at Staples High School in the 1960s and 1970s. From there both had careers at top Division I schools and were drafted into professional soccer leagues.
The duo were linked once again this week as they were named among the six to be inducted into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in a ceremony that takes place Jan. 30 at the Cromwell Plaza hotel in Cromwell.
“It’s a great honor,” Baumann said. “It is a great tradition at Staples, there have been great players who have come through over the years. To be one of a group players who made the game grow is an honor, I am very excited.”
If that wasn’t enough, Baumann and Murphy once lived in the same house on Loren Lane, completing the link between two of the best athletes to come out of Westport. Baumann even temporarily coached Murphy in the youth system.
Baumann graduated from Staples in 1970 having won two CIAC Class L titles — the second and third in the program’s prestigious history — and amassing a 43-3-3 career record in three seasons. Named an All-American, Baumann moved on to the University of Pennsylvania where he again elevated the program.
While with the Quakers, Baumann scored 30 goals and added 39 assists in winning a pair of Ivy League championships.
He was selected in the first round of the 1974 North American Soccer League — a professional league that ran from 1967-1985 — draft by the Miami Toros. That stint included playing against the New York Cosmos and legendary forward Pele at Yankee Stadium.
“He scored a bicycle kick,” Baumann recalled. “I wasn’t guarding him, thankfully, but I was guarding someone close to him. That was a highlight to be on the field with him certainly.”
After hanging up the cleats, Baumann coached at the youth level and even had a spell with the University of Pennsylavania in the late 1980s.
As much as his soccer career included plenty of highlights, his professional one stacks right up.
Baumann was Vice President of Education and Programs at the Liberty Science Center and the Director of Educational Technology Programs at The Franklin Institute Science Museum. He then became the Executive Director of the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena, California.
Baumann was also a director for the National Soccer Hall of Fame, located in Oneonta, New York. Now Baumann, who lives in Fairfield, is the chairman of the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport.
“I’ve been in the museum world for over 20 years in a lot of different positions,” Baumann said. “I came here as a student in sixth grade; coming back here been an exciting challenge.”
Murphy was a key figure for the Wreckers in the mid 1970s, another boon period as the school won three FCIAC titles and a state championship in 1973.
From there he attended UConn and was part of a Huskies team who appeared in three straight NCAA tournaments. Murphy was an All-New England selection and served as captain as a senior.
After a brief professional career with the Detroit Express and Washington Diplomats in the NASL, Murphy turned to a career in Wall Street. He worked in the oil and electric sectors as a commodity broker before returning to the sidelines at Brown University as an assistant to fellow Staples graduate Mike Noonan.
“Certainly what I was doing was a young person’s business,” Murphy said. “I was thinking about getting into sports administration in college, but Mike Noonan said you should get into coaching.”
Murphy is now the head coach at Connecticut College, located in New London. He’s held the position since 2009, and has amassed a 52-41-14 record in that time. Last season, the team won 10 games for the first time in 18 years.
“It’s been great, the NESCAC is the best Division III conference in the country so it’s challenging,” Murphy said. “The schools have Ivy League standards, which is very tough in recruiting. The kids are driven to be excellence and we’ve done well.”
Baumann and Murphy both got their roots in the same place, and will now join a select group in the Hall of Fame.
“Growing up in Westport was a great time for soccer at Staples,” Murphy said. “They went on a run and clearly it one of the top towns for soccer in the state.”