It’s been almost four decades since the passing of Thurman Munson. I certainly don’t remember him playing, but his death has always been attached to my life. My father, who had grown up a New York Yankees’ fan, and strayed when George Steinbrenner purchased the team in 1973, always had a soft spot in his heart for Munson.
Munson’s death came on my birthday, back in 1979. I was three. My father, who normally wasn’t the sentimental type, ensured that Munson’s memory lived on in his son, as I donned the #15 throughout my baseball career. My father, who is now gone as well, used to tell stories of the grittiness, the tenacity, the guts of the Captain. Dad used to say that “Fisk couldn’t hold Munson’s jock in their prime.” Maybe, maybe not. I do remember Fisk, hanging on for dear life at the end of his career with the Chicago White Sox. He’s a Hall of Famer. Johnny Bench, the gold standard for catchers from that era is a Hall of Famer. Had Munson not died, would he be a Hall of Famer? We’ll never know.
Instead of talking about what ifs, on this day, the 35th anniversary of the tragic death of the Yankee Captain, we are going to look back at some key moments of his career, life, and death. Today we remember, Thurman Munson.