It is hard to believe that it has been 35 years. Yankee fans around back then all remember where we were when the news reached us. I had been at the park all day, like most 8 year olds, enjoying a nice summer day. It was hard to fathom, at least for this kid’s mind, what it meant that Thurman Munson, Yankee captain, was gone.
We cannot say enough about what he meant to the team. The stats do not tell the whole story. A career average of .292, just over 10 home runs per season (he reached 20 once), 64 RBI (he reached 100 three times), the numbers are above average but not superhuman. He earned the 1970 American League Rookie of the Year, the 1976 American League MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, and 7 trips to the All-Star Game.
It was the way he elevated the team, the way he stepped up when the chips were on the line that set him apart. When he was reaching his prime, in 1976, he helped the Yankees reach the World Series and win it the following year. That World Series win ended a 15-year drought, the 2nd longest since their first World Series win in 1923. The longest would be the 18 years after his death.
His stats in the playoffs were legendary. A .373 hitter in the World Series with a .909 OPS in three Series, he did not have a World Series where he hit less than .320. In fact, although the 1976 World Series ended in a 4-game sweep, he was the one shining star of the Yankees in that Series, hitting a staggering .529.
I could write forever about individual game scenarios, stat splits that show his brilliance, and you should read BYB’s THE YANKEES MOUNT OLYMPUS: THURMAN MUNSON for more. I think about him every August 2nd. I remember holding his baseball card, 35 years ago, realizing that there would never be another one. It seems appropriate to take a moment out today to remember him. Pull out that old baseball card, pop that Thurman Munson Yankeeography DVD into the player, and reminisce about how much he meant to the Yankees.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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