Thirty years after his death, Munson remains a Yankee
He loved Ohio so much that the Yankees were lucky not to lose him to the Indians a time or two. But we worked hard to keep him, especially after we signed Reggie Jackson for big money and he demanded a salary increase. And of course it was one of the reasons he had the plane, so he could go back to Ohio often.
When you look back at Thurman's career, he just seems to have completely defined an important era for the Yankees. Billy
The thing that struck me about Thurman was his confidence. He was sure within himself and his abilities, especially his hitting. He knew what he could do. He really led those teams from the catcher's position, just knew the hitters and could help the pitchers out so much with strategy. Billy once said he could handle anything back there, and that's true.
Thurman was very competitive, loved being in the big leagues and cared about his place in the pecking order. All that stuff you read about his being very aware of Carlton Fisk's and Johnny Bench's reputations was real. He wanted to be recognized for the catcher he was. It made him try harder. He had a healthy ego, but he backed it up. We wouldn't have wanted anybody else behind the plate back then.
When Thurman died, it was just a total shock. It didn't seem real, and all of us had a problem dealing with it. I remember coming out of the team meeting after the plane crash. We were told by Bobby Murcer that Thurman's wife, Diana, wanted us to play the next day. She said Thurman would have wanted it. I bet she was right. It was tough, though, especially tough on his teammates. We also decided to attend the funeral four days later as a team, even if it meant we'd have to forfeit a game. I never regretted those decisions for a minute. It was the right thing to do, and now it has a place in Yankees history. We were there for Thurman at that moment the way he was there for us so many times. I'm still amazed that we won the game against Baltimore after attending the funeral. The team had so much resilience and heart.
Thurman Munson never left the Yankees. He wasn't traded, he didn't retire, he didn't leave for another team, he wasn't injured. That's why, after 30 years, he's still with the team. That's what his plaque says in Monument Park, and that's the way it is.
I hope he gets in the Hall of Fame someday. His career wasn't as long as any of us would have liked, but he had a huge impact. He has that 1970 A.L. rookie of the
Certainly, for the Yankees in those years, he was indispensable and irreplaceable. His empty locker, undisturbed in the old clubhouse for 29 years, moved with us to the new stadium and is in the museum there.
Yankee captain Thurman Munson is still in the ballpark.