"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Tender is the Night

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]


1 Yankee Mama   ~  Mar 1, 2011 10:28 am

It's stories like those that have continually fueled my love of baseball. Call me a sucker, but this is good stuff. I guess there was a reason the guy was el capitan.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 1, 2011 11:03 am

Yeah, it came highly recommended. It's very ambitious and I think it is a success on the author's terms. I didn't really connect with it though I loved the reporting, the stuff about Thurman's old man and his children. The tone of it, though, it's not that it is glib, but I guess it's just not my taste. Still, it's a good read.

3 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Mar 1, 2011 12:41 pm

God, I fucking love baseball.

4 thelarmis   ~  Mar 1, 2011 2:04 pm

Thurman was my very 1st idol. i have Thurman stuff all over the place...

5 YankeeAbby   ~  Mar 1, 2011 2:07 pm

Beautiful story. Actually tearing up at my desk right now. I remember 8/2/79 vividly. 5 o'clock news, and then front doors of houses slamming open (I think my mother was even sitting on our front porch at the time too) and so many kids living on my block running out into the middle of the street. "Oh, NO! Thurmon Munson died!" "Thurmon Munson died!!!"

Sad day in sports...sad day, period.

6 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Mar 1, 2011 10:29 pm

bawling my eyes out reading it. he was my hero too. I'll never forget going to the august 3 game with my brother and dad. we all cried, all 56,000 of us. hands down the most memorable public event I've ever attended.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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