An open thread on the anniversary of Thurman Munson’s death.
Image and link from It’s a Long Season.
I was just a boy living in Southern California. I was sitting on my bike in the middle of the street, waiting for my best friend, Ryan, to come out of his house. He rolled out on his bike, then gave me the news.
"Thurman Munson died today," he said. He wasn't a Yankee fan, but obviously knew that I was.
"No, he didn't." It was a childish response, but I was only nine. If I denied the truth, it wouldn't be true.
"Yes, he was in an airplane crash. I saw it on the news."
Munson wasn't my hero (that would've been Reggie or Ron Guidry), but this still hit me hard. Ryan and I stood astride our bikes, one foot on the ground, the other on the pedal, and didn't speak. There was a manhole in the street between us, and I stared at it so we wouldn't have to look at each other. Mainly so I wouldn't have to explain how sad I was. (To this day, whenever I think of Thurman Munson, I remember the contours of that manhole cover and the pattern of slightly raised knobs that dotted its surface.) After a minute or so, I grabbed my handlebars and started pedaling down the street without a word. Ryan followed, and we went back to being nine-year-olds.
One day my oldest brother Michael took me out to practice in the yard. He asked me what I wanted to do first, practice hitting or fielding, and I said "Let's just work on fielding. My hitting has been good." I was in Little League, hitting something like .400, and full of myself. He told me Thurman Munson practiced his hitting every day. I ended up hitting until it was dark.
I wanted to be many things at that age but Not Like Thurman Munson wasn't one of them.
I was traveling to Florida with my Mom and sisters the August of the crash. I was 10. I remember Mickey Rivers was traded and I was in disbelief about that. He was the only Yankee centerfielder I ever knew and I was disoriented hearing about it on I-95 in Fayetteville or wherever we were at the time. Thurman Munson died the next day. When I heard about Munson I was even more confused.
Don't they mean he was traded? Like Mickey Rivers? He was gone, but not traded.
I think of Thurm every time I see the date August 2.
I was on my friend Wally's front porch just hanging out when his next door neighbor ran out of his house and blurted out what had happened. We all ran inside and saw it on TV - the Mets were on and the announcers were talking about it.
It didn't really hit me until they did a "missing man" formation at the next game, against the Orioles at the Stadium - the team took the field minus the catcher. What a great gesture, and it still gets me thinking about it 33 years later...
Tough stuff to deal with, especially for a 12-year-old.
Funny thing looking back - the Yanks were something like 15 games out when Thurm died - they had all kinds of problems, Goose got hurt in a fight, Reggie was banged up for a month or so, they put Guidry in the bullpen for a few games (how dumb, right?) - but until the loss of Munson, my friends and I were convinced that the Yanks were going to mount another improbable comeback and take the division.
When Munson died, we knew the Yanks were out of it, and really didn't care much.
I remember getting an early start on the lawn mowing that weekend (normally took a good 6-7 hours, unless I wanted to reclaim more of the family's property from nature, hey when you're 14 anything is possible). Came into watch some t.v. Utterly stunned.  yeah, the season was gone at that point.
Hey, let's make CC our closer!
thurman was my idol. my very first. i'll never forget sitting on the hardwood living room floor of our far rockaway apartment in queens and seeing the news. i was devastated.
i've got thurman stuff all around my house and drum studio. still sad...
I was a big Thurman Munson fan, but I think Mick the Quick was my favorites.
I believe I was coming home from baseball practice or just playing baseball. I walked in the house and my mom and dad where kind of in a weird formation in the living room...half sitting half standing, both looking at me. The incongruence of their body language told me something was wrong.
My dad said, "Tom, Thurman Munson died" and my just heart sank. I didn't know what to say or do. I said, "What? How? Why?" First death that ever touched me.
It's needless to say to anyone who lived through it, but Thurman was the heart and soul of the resurgent Yanks of the '70s.
My favorite story about him illustrates his well-known grit: in '74 or '75, his throwing skills were badly hampered by injury, but he stayed in the lineup. In a game against the A's, onetime sprinter and pinch-running specialist Herb Washington was sent in to run. As he jogged by home plate on his way toward first, he reportedly told Thurman has was going to have to make a perfect throw to get him at second. A pitch or two later, Thurman fired the throw of the year, easily gunning down Washington trying to steal. Washington jogged straight back to the dugout, not thinking of approaching the vicinity of the plate after his brief appearance.
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