12/08/2009 05:32 PM

Mighty Murph Shapiro Retiring

By: Bill Pucko

When is it OK for a man who has received nearly everything he asked of life to retire? To pack up the office full of memories covering six decades into the cardboard boxes to spend more time with your four grandchildren and a fifth on the way? If you're Bruce "Murph" Shapiro, that time is now.

From the Franklin High School class of 1957, Shapiro was an All Greater Rochester basketball player back in the days when undersized white guards who could shoot the lights out and average 20 points per game were all the rage.

He shared the spotlight with the great Al Butler at East High, who was, according to Shapiro, the best basketball player Rochester ever produced hands down. Murph recalls playing against Butler when Al had a broken left hand. "Not only did I foul out with about ten minutes to go in the game, but he wound up scoring 35 points with his hand that wasn't broken."

Butler left for Niagara University on his way to a four year NBA career. Murph went to Miami and played in the 1960 NCAA Basketball Tournament back when it was a 25 team event. Jerry Lucas led Ohio State to the title that year.
Shapiro was good enough and loved being a college player, but skipped his senior year to concentrate on his studies. He had plans to return home.

"At that time if you didn't have a job when you came out of college, you went into the service. Luckily I got a job teaching elementary school in East Irondequoit and Al Massino asked me to help him coach at the high school level."

He moved back to the city as the head coach at Monroe High School, then onto a sixteen year career coaching basketball at MCC, where he got the chance to merge the experiences.

"To be able to work with the city kids and the county kids and put them together and have them play the kind of basketball I liked to coach, was terrific. And they were great kids. They enjoyed playing with one another. Some of these kids ever played with a city kid and visa versa. It was terrific." Together they won 329 games. All the while Shapiro kept a national profile as a big time college basketball referee.

Shapiro became athletic director at MCC in 1991. He's going out on top. Tribune teams won 99 regional and 13 national championships under Murph. MCC placed in the top two among all junior colleges in overall athletic success the last four years running.

"Our coaching staff here does a terrific job. They make you proud every time they go out to coach a team. They're the heros here, not me."

People close to the Mighty Murph know better.