While Rob Blomberg and the New York Yankees were climbing out of the doldrums of the early 1970s under the watch of Ralph Houk and Bill Virdon, the performance on the field and silent leadership off the field of Thurman Munson was a constant steadying presence that eventually helped the Yanks get back to the top of the mountain.
Munson, who passed away in 1979 at the age of 32 following a plane crash in his native Ohio, has been consistently slighted since then. Munson was a seven-time All-Star who won Rookie of the Year, the 1976 AL MVP award, three Gold Glove awards, and two championships.
Despite that, Munson never received more than 15.5% of the Hall of Fame vote in any given year, and only topped 9.5% of the vote during his first season on the ballot.
Blomberg, known to many as the first DH in MLB history, is riled up about the media excluding one of the most memorable Yankees from induction, and he’s written an entire book to change hearts and minds.
Blomberg’s latest book, entitled TThe Captain & Me: On and Off The Field with Thurman Munson, tries to peel back the curtain and tell a younger generation of fans what Munson was like as a player and person.
In an exclusive interview with Yanks Go Yard, Blomberg made his case for Munson’s induction.
Ron Blomberg wants Yankees legend Thurman Munson in Cooperstown.
"There’s so many younger writers that never saw Thurman play,” Blomberg said. “What I wanted to do with this book is show what type of person he was off the field. He was the best of the best.”"
Blomberg took issue with the fact that Munson was often overlooked due to the fact that he played at the same time as Cincinnati Reds legend Johnny Bench and Boston Red Sox stud Carlton Fisk, both of whom were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Munson, according to Blomberg, was a victim of some writers being a bit irritated by his adversarial relationship with the media.
“From ’72 to ’79, there was never a better ballplayer,” Blomberg said. “I’m taking the stats away. When you play in New York, you have to be a certain type of ballplayer. You’ve got to be tough…even if he was 0-20, he came in there and busted his tail. He gave 120%”
Blomberg has stated in the past that the purpose of that book was not to beat writers over the head with stats, but to instead show that behind a player in Munson who didn’t get along with the media very well, there was a caring, loving individual that would give anyone the shirt off of his back.
Ex-Yankees slugger Ron Blomberg wanted to tell Thurman Munson’s story.
Blomberg believes that stats don’t tell the whole picture with Munson, nor does hearsay from writers that he wasn’t always very warm with. Blomberg believes that Munson was the epitome of a leader on the field and a gentle soul off of it, especially when it came to younger children. With this book, he hopes to make the younger generation aware of who No. 15 was.
Blomberg takes pride in the fact that Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, wrote the forward to his book, making it the first time that Munson has put her name in front of a biography of one of the greatest Yankees who ever lived. Blomberg cited his kinship with Munson as the primary driver behind Diana’s willingness to introduce the book.
“This is not a baseball book,” Blomberg said of his latest work. “This is a story about a great person.”
Munson’s legacy as a Yankee legend will never fade away, but Blomberg and everyone who played alongside him is doing everything that they can in order to instill that same sense of wonder and awe into younger generations.