Friday, August 2, 2013

Thurman Munson

Growing up as a die hard Detroit Tigers fan in Kalamazoo, it was always hard for me to understand why any boy, especially my brothers, would ever root for any other team.

To my dismay that's exactly what two of my brothers did.

Joe, my youngest brother, is the other sensible baseball fan, and is still a Tigers fan.

Joe was born in January 1968.

The Tigers were World Champions in October ' about a good luck charm

My brother Paul became a Cubs fan.

Decades later he's still a fan of the Cubbies, having suffered year after year for his shaky decision.

Then there's my brother Robert.

He's why I wrote this post today.

Many years ago he turned to the darkest parts of baseball fans...he became a part of the evil empire known as New York Yankees fans.

Robert grew up idolizing the Pinstripes, Yankees CF Bobby Murcer...and catcher Thurman Munson.

Thirty-four years ago, on August 2nd, 1979, my brothers second favorite player, Munson, died while piloting a small plane in Ohio.

It's sad to me, but when I hear Thurman's name come up, it always reminds me of that horrible plane crash.

As a baseball fan I should be remembering how great a ballplayer Thurman Munson was, not how his life ended.

Munson was a feisty guy behind the plate. 

My most vivid memory of Munson on the baseball field is actually a brawl that took place between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

The fight started because of a collision at home plate between Munson and the BoSox Carlton "Pudge" Fisk.

Munson was the Yankees team Captain, and he refused to let the opposing teams dictate how the game would be played.

No one was going to push the Yankees around while Munson was behind home plate.

While Thurman Munson was the Yankees catcher, New York went to three straight World Series, 1976-77-78.

The Bronx Bombers twice defeated their long tine rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers,  in '77 and '78, to become Workd Champions.

Thurman Munson played 11 years in the Bronx, starting with his big league debut on August 8th, 1969, at age 22.

The Yanks first round pick, 4th overall, in the 1968 Ametuer Draft, Munson played in 1, 423 games, batting .292.

The 1970 American League Rookie of the Year, Munson played on at least 125 games, collecting 1, 557 base hits.

Munson earned the 1976 A.L. Most Valuable Player Award, batting ..302, with 17 HR, 105 RBI, with 27 doubles.

The 7-time All-Star backstop won three straight Gold Gloves as the Yankees catcher, in 1973-74-75.

Whenever we get together and talk baseball Robert always made sure to get a few words in about his guy Munson..."old Thurm" as he calls him.

I still remember a Monday Night Game of the Week on ABC the night of Munson's funeral. 

The Yankees played with heavy hearts, not a dry eye at Yankee Stadium.
The Bronx Bombers beat the  Baltimore Orioles, 5-4.

All five  of the Yankees runs were driven in by my brother Robert's favorite ball player, Bobby Murcer, Munson's best friend.

Today we remember a Yankee legend, and one of my brothers favorite players.

God Bless Thurman Lee Munson.

Play Ball.

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