Thurman Munson

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Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next ... Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.

Munson's locker in the New York Yankees Museum, 2009. Munson Locker.JPG
Munson's locker in the New York Yankees Museum, 2009.

The locker that Munson used, along with a bronzed set of his catching equipment, was donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Despite a packed clubhouse, Munson's final locker position was never reassigned. The locker next to Yankee team captain Derek Jeter's, with Munson's number 15 on it, remained unused as a tribute to the Yankees' lost catcher in the original Yankee Stadium until the Stadium closed in 2008. [28] Munson's locker was moved in one piece to the New Yankee Stadium. It is located in the New York Yankees Museum. Visitors can view the Yankees Museum on game days from when the gates open to the end of the eighth inning and during Yankee Stadium tours. Munson's number 15 is also displayed on the center-field wall at Thurman Munson Stadium, a minor-league ballpark in Canton. Munson is buried at Canton's Sunset Hills Burial Park.

A modest, one-block street at Concourse Village East and 156th Street in The Bronx was named Thurman Munson Way in 1979. Two school buildings, which house several schools including Henry Lou Gehrig Junior High School, have since been built on the street. [40]

Teammate Lou Piniella thought Munson was "the greatest competitor I've ever seen." [28] Tommy John said, "He was the main reason I came to New York. He was an excellent catcher who called an outstanding game." [41] John also praised him for his leadership, writing that while Jackson led the team when it came to hitting and talking with the press, "in the locker room we looked to Munson." [41]

On August 1, 1980, the day before the first anniversary of the accident, the Yankees filed a $4.5-million lawsuit against Cessna Aircraft Co. and Flight Safety International, Inc. (the company who was training Munson to fly), with team spokesman John J. McCarty saying "we asked for $4.5 million because that is what Munson would be worth if the Yankees traded him." That lawsuit was dismissed before it went to trial. [42] Munson's widow, Diana, also filed a $42.2 million wrongful death lawsuit against the two companies. Cessna offered Munson a special deal on flying lessons if he would take them from FlightSafety International. Rather than requiring Munson to take a two-week safety class in Kansas, FlightSafety assigned a "traveling instructor" to go on the road with him, and train him between ballgames. [43] The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court.

Actor Erik Jensen portrayed Munson in the 2007 ESPN produced mini-series The Bronx Is Burning .

Personal life

In September 1968, Munson married Diana Dominick at St. John's Church in Canton. The couple had been childhood sweethearts; Diana was already signing her name "Mrs. Thurman Munson" back in sixth grade. [28] They had three children: daughter Tracy, daughter Kelly and son Michael. [44] [28] At Game 3 of the 1997 World Series in Cleveland, Diana threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Michael also played baseball professionally, spending three years in the Yankees' organization and one year in Double-A for the Giants. "It felt like I was competing against a ghost, because I didn't know if he would've been proud of what I'd done," Michael said of his career. "Nothing people said affected me, and the comparisons didn't affect me, because the pressure I put on myself was more than any pressure other people put on me." [28]

Munson also enjoyed handball, which he often played at the Canton YMCA. Frogs legs were one of his favorite foods, and he also liked chocolate. He smoked cigars. [28]

Baseball accomplishments

Munson had a career .357 batting average in the postseason with three home runs, 22 RBI and 19 runs scored. His batting average in the World Series was .373. Munson threw out 44.48% of base runners who tried stealing a base on him, ranking him 11th on the all-time list. [45]

See also

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References

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  2. 1 2 "Yankees' star Munson is killed in plane crash". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. August 3, 1979. p. 1.
  3. "'New love' claims life of Yanks' Munson". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. August 3, 1979. p. 33.
  4. 1 2 3 Bock, Hal (August 4, 1979). "Yankees, O's, fans in Munson tribute". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. p. 13.
  5. Appel (2009) , p. 12
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  35. "Coroner: Paralyzed Munson couldn't escape".
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  40. "Paltry Tribute to a Yankee Lost Too Soon" by Sam Dolnick, The New York Times, April 16, 2010 (p. CT1 April 18, 2010 NY ed.). Retrieved 2010-04-17.
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  43. Haitch, Richard (1982-05-02). "Follow-Up on the News; Munson Case". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  44. "Diana Munson & Goose Gossage at Modell's Grand Central" on YouTube by Katherine Hart, YouTube network video interview, August 06, 2008. News outlets sometimes spell the name Diane, including the NYTimes; however, since "Diana" is used in a recorded face-to-face video interview situation here, the editor has brought all references to that spelling. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  45. 100 Best Catcher CS% Totals at The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers

Bibliography

Thurman Munson
Munson 2.jpg
Catcher
Born:(1947-06-07)June 7, 1947
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
Died: August 2, 1979(1979-08-02) (aged 32)
Green, Ohio, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 8, 1969, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
August 1, 1979, for the New York Yankees
Sporting positions
Preceded by New York Yankees team captain
April 17, 1976  – August 2, 1979
Succeeded by