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Published On: February 25th, 2013

Driving up to Tim and Margie Murray’s house it doesn’t take long before you notice a flag waving in the distance, in Minnesota it sticks out like a sore thumb, the University of Iowa colors wave back and forth.

Originally from Iowa, the Murray’s are avid Hawkeye fans, their office decorated with black and yellow memorabilia. The tie to Tim’s alma mater is what started their hosting trek 12 years ago.

"We knew the University of Iowa’s baseball coach at the time, he called us up and said we are sending three guys," Margie recalls, "We took them all that first year." 

It was a different time back then, the players slept late, didn’t work out as much; it was less intense. The Murray’s developed a relationship not only with the parents, but also the college coaches.

"Cell phones didn’t really exist yet, so the coaches would call the house phone to speak with one of their players after a game," said Margie.

Another difference, for the first two years of hosting, was that their players were part of the Mankato Mashers era, and from that time came a University of Illinois at Chicago outfielder, Curtis Granderson.

The Murrays recall their summer with Curtis, "He was very quite and polite, it took him several days to even ask if another teammate could come over." As far as their relationship with the New York Yankees outfielder goes today, "We still keep in touch and send him our family Christmas card each year. It was important to us to not make him feel like we wanted something from him."

The Murray’s have continued to host 10 out of the 11 years the MoonDogs have been in existence, only stopping one summer to get settled into a new house. Through the years they have kept the same common approach, Margie wanted her MoonDogs players to know she could be a confidant, someone to share with. In fact, it doesn’t take long after conversing with the Murrays to realize that was the motto for each of their players.

"We want to make a difference in all their lives," said Tim, "We give, and what we what we get back are role-models for our kids."

It is evident from the way they talk to each of the MoonDogs pictures hanging on their walls that the Murrays have a place not only in their home, but also in their hearts for each and every player that puts on a Mankato jersey.

When asked what it would have been like to never have hosted, the Murray’s agreed that being apart of the MoonDogs community has always been in their family and that they couldn’t even imagine not hosting, "It’s been a gift," said Margie.

And the MoonDogs couldn’t imagine not having the Murrays for the last 12 years. Hawkeye fans and all, the Murrays, and each of our host families, are the real gift.