The good folks at Gangrey have reprinted Michael Paterniti’s loving 1999 Esquire piece on Thurman Munson:
[Ron Guidry] remembers his first start as a Yankee. He came in from the bullpen, nervous and wired, and Thurman Munson walked up to him and said: Trust me. That’s it. Trust me. Then walked away. As Guidry remembers it, everything after that was easy. Like playing catch with Thurman Munson. Thurman calls a fastball on the outside corner. Okay, fastball outside corner. He calls a slider. Okay, slider. Eighteen strikeouts a game. A 25-3 record. The World Series. Just trusting Thurman Munson. Can’t even remember the opposing teams, Guidry says, just remember looking for Thurman’s mitt. Remembers that very first start: Thurman Munson came galumphing out to the mound, told him to throw a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Okay, no problem.
But I’m gonna tell the guy you’re throwing a fastball right down the middle, says Thurman Munson.
Guidry says, Now, Thurman, why’n the hell would you do that?
Trust me, says Thurman Munson. Harumphs back to the plate. Guidry can see him chatting to the batter, telling him the pitch, then he calls for a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Damn crazy fool. Guidry throws the fastball anyway, batter misses. Next pitch, Thurman Munson is talking to the batter again, calls a fastball on the outside corner, Guidry throws, batter swings and misses. Talking to batter again, calls a slider, misses again. Strikeout. Thurman Munson telling most every batter just what Gator is going to throw and Gator throwing it right by them. After a while Thurman Munson doesn’t say anything to the batters, and Gator, he’s free and clear. Believes in himself. Which was the point, wasn’t it?
[Picture by Larry Roibal]