Fandom

ArmchairGM Wiki

Thurman Munson

12,202pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.

Full Name: Thurman Lee Munson Primary Position: C
Height/Weight: 5' 11"/190 First Game: August 8, 1969
Birthdate: June 7, 1947 Final Game: August 1, 1979
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio MLB Experience: 11 years
Died: August 2, 1979
Deathplace: Canton, Ohio
Bat/Throw: Right/Right


Biography

Thurman Munson (Thurman Lee Munson) was born on June 7, 1947 in Akron, Ohio. He made his Major League debut on August 8, 1969 for the New York Yankees. In 1970, his rookie year, he hit .302 with 6 home runs and 53 RBI. Munson played for the New York Yankees for his entire 11 year career.

Most people believe that Thurman Munson's best season was 1976, when he slugged 17 home runs, hit for a .302 average and knocked in 105 runs.

Munson was killed in an airplane accident at age 32, while still in the prime of his career.

Born in Akron, Ohio, he grew up in nearby Canton. He graduated from Lehman High School in Canton and nearby Kent State University, where he was a teammate of pitcher and later broadcaster Steve Stone.

Munson was selected by the Yankees with the fourth pick in the first round of the 1968 amateur draft. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1970 for batting .302 with 7 home runs and 57 RBIs, and the American League MVP in 1976 for batting .302 with 17 home runs and 105 RBIs. Through the 2005 season, he is the only Yankee ever to win both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player awards. (Derek Jeter, who won Rookie of the Year in 1996, is the only active Yankee eligible to match the feat.) By a set of transactions, in 1974 the Yankees ended up with three straight Rookies of the Year on their roster, although 1969 winner Lou Piniella played for the Kansas City Royals at the time, and 1971 winner Chris Chambliss won it with the Cleveland Indians.

An outstanding fielder, in 1971 he made only one error behind the plate, and went on to win Gold Glove Awards for 1973-74-75. A seven-time All-Star, Munson smashed 113 home runs, 701 RBIs and had a career batting average of .292 over his ten-year career. He was also the first captain named by the Yankees since Lou Gehrig. Munson helped lead his team to three consecutive World Series (1976–1978), where he batted a remarkable .373 overall. A series of injuries in the late 1970s led to 77 appearances as a designated hitter, 27 games in the outfield, and five games as a first baseman, including his last three major league appearances.

In the 1976 World Series, despite the Yankees losing to the Cincinnati Reds in four straight games, Munson batted .529 and collected six consecutive hits to tie a record set by Goose Goslin of the Washington Senators in 1925 (also in a losing effort). After this hitting performance, which included a 4 for 4 day in the final game, Reds manager Sparky Anderson was asked by a reporter to compare Munson with his catcher, future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. Anderson's comment at the post-World Series press conference -- "Don't ever embarrass anybody by comparing him to Johnny Bench" -- may have been a tribute to a great player, but it angered Munson (who overheard as he waited to go into the interview room) and his teammates; though his team was swept, for four days Munson was every bit as good as Bench.

Munson also maintained a feud with the other top catcher in the American League in the 1970s, Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox. Although Fisk's ability to play until he was 45 years old allowed him to build up career statistics that far exceeded Munson's, in the seven seasons in which they were both full-time catchers (1972–78), they were roughly equal both at the plate and behind it; while Fisk's numbers were slightly better in each case, it was Munson who brought his team to the postseason three times, compared to Fisk's one.

Munson batted .320 with a home run in the 1977 World Series, in which the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game 3 of the 1978 American League Championship Series, with the Yankees tied a game apiece with the Kansas City Royals and trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, he hit the longest home run of his career, a 475-foot (145-meter) shot over Yankee Stadium's Monument Park in left-center field, to give the Yankees a 6-5 win. They won the pennant the next day, and in the World Series against the Dodgers, Munson caught a pop-up by Ron Cey for the final out.

Despite the love of the fans and the deep respect of his teammates and opponents, Munson was frequently homesick, and took flying lessons so that he could fly home to his family in Canton on off-days. On August 2, 1979, he was practicing takeoffs and landings in his new Cessna Citation jet at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport. On the third touch-and-go, Munson failed to lower the flaps for landing and allowed the aircraft to sink too low before increasing engine power, causing the jet to clip a tree and fall short of the runway. The plane then impacted a tree stump and burst into flames, killing Munson, who was trapped inside, and injuring two other companions. It is believed that the inability to get out of the plane, and the ensuing asphyxiation, is what killed Munson, rather than injuries sustained on impact or burns. He was just 32 years old.

His sudden death stunned the nation and especially sorrowed the baseball community. Munson's wife, Diana, and their three children survived him. The next day, before the start of the Yankees' four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx, the Yankees paid tribute to their fallen captain in a pre-game ceremony during which the starters stood at their defensive positions, save for the catcher's box, which remained empty. At the conclusion of Robert Merrill's musical selection, the fans (announced attendance 51,151) burst into a 10-minute standing ovation.

Four days later, on August 6, the entire Yankee team attended his funeral in Canton. Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, who were Munson's best friends as well as teammates, gave moving eulogies. That night (in front of a national viewing audience on ABC's Monday Night Baseball) the Yankees beat the Orioles 5-4 in New York, with Murcer driving in all 5 runs with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth.

Immediately following his death, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner announced that his uniform number 15 was being retired. On September 20, 1980, a plaque was dedicated in his memory and placed in Monument Park. The plaque bears excerpts from an inscription composed by Steinbrenner and flashed on the Stadium scoreboard the day after his death:

"Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next... Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him."

To this day, despite a packed clubhouse, an empty locker, with Munson's number 15 on it, remains as a tribute to the Yankees' lost catcher. The original locker that Munson used, along with a bronzed set of his catching equipment, were donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

His number 15 is also displayed on the center field wall at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium, a minor-league ballpark in Canton. Munson is buried at Canton's Sunset Hills Burial Park.

Statistics

Batting Stats

Year Team G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B BB SO HBP SH SB IBB GDP
1969 NY A 26 86 6 22 1 9 .256 .330 .349 1 2 10 10 0 0 0 1 5
1970 NY A 132 453 59 137 6 53 .302 .386 .415 25 4 57 56 7 5 5 6 13
1971 NY A 125 451 71 113 10 42 .251 .335 .368 15 4 52 65 7 4 6 1 10
1972 NY A 140 511 54 143 7 46 .280 .343 .364 16 3 47 58 3 4 6 5 13
1973 NY A 147 519 80 156 20 74 .301 .362 .487 29 4 48 64 4 1 4 4 12
1974 NY A 144 517 64 135 13 60 .261 .316 .381 19 2 44 66 1 1 2 12 14
1975 NY A 157 597 83 190 12 102 .318 .366 .429 24 3 45 52 6 3 3 8 23
1976 NY A 152 616 79 186 17 105 .302 .337 .432 27 1 29 38 9 1 14 6 17
1977 NY A 149 595 85 183 18 100 .308 .351 .462 28 5 39 55 2 0 5 8 18
1978 NY A 154 617 73 183 6 71 .297 .332 .373 27 1 35 70 3 1 2 6 20
1979 NY A 97 382 42 110 3 39 .288 .340 .374 18 3 32 37 0 1 1 2 15
Total 1423 5344 696 1558 113 701 .292 .346 .410 229 32 438 571 42 21 48 59 160

Fielding Stats

Year Team POS G GS INN PO A ERR DP TP PB SB CS PkO AVG
1969 NY A C 25 24 218 119 18 2 0 0 5 6 7 1 .986
1970 NY A C 125 119 1092.2 631 80 8 11 0 10 31 33 1 .989
1971 NY A C 117 114 1019 547 67 1 4 0 9 23 36 1 .998
1971 NY A RF 1 0 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1971 NY A OF 1 0 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1972 NY A C 132 132 1160 575 71 15 11 0 9 32 29 3 .977
1973 NY A C 142 142 1246 673 80 12 11 0 10 50 47 5 .984
1973 NY A DH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1974 NY A C 136 136 1202.2 743 75 22 10 0 6 72 38 8 .974
1974 NY A DH 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1975 NY A DH 22 21 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1975 NY A LF 1 1 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1975 NY A OF 2 2 17 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1975 NY A 3B 1 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1975 NY A C 130 129 1131.2 700 95 23 14 0 9 59 60 7 .972
1975 NY A 1B 2 2 17 20 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1975 NY A RF 1 1 9 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1976 NY A C 121 118 1062 537 78 12 8 0 12 91 50 8 .981
1976 NY A RF 9 7 62 8 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .889
1976 NY A DH 21 21 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1976 NY A LF 2 2 21 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500
1976 NY A OF 11 9 83 9 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .818
1977 NY A DH 10 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1977 NY A C 136 136 1158.2 657 73 12 4 0 10 76 50 1 .984
1978 NY A OF 13 13 118 32 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .970
1978 NY A C 125 125 1063 666 61 10 4 0 8 61 50 2 .986
1978 NY A RF 13 13 118 34 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .971
1978 NY A DH 14 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1979 NY A C 88 88 754.2 405 44 10 5 0 5 32 27 1 .978
1979 NY A DH 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1979 NY A 1B 3 3 19 23 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
Total 1B 5 5 36 43 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
Total DH 77 74 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Total RF 24 21 189.2 46 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .958
Total 3B 1 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Total LF 3 3 29 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667
Total C 1277 1263 11108.1 6253 742 127 82 0 93 533 427 38 .982
Total OF 27 24 218.2 46 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .939

Transactions

  • Selected by New York Yankees in the 1st round (4th pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 7, 1968).

Trivia

See also

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki