“I like hitting fourth and I like the good batting average. But what I do every day behind the plate is a lot more important because it touches so many more people and so many more aspects of the game.”
New York Yankee catcher Thurman Munson
Thurman Munson played for the New York Yankees for 10 years. Munson died at age 32 while practicing landing his Cessna Citation at the Akron-Canton airport. Thurman Munson was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1970 and the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1976. Munson was a seven-time All Star and he also won three Gold Gloves behind the plate for fielding excellence.
From 1976-79, Munson was the Yankees’ captain. Munson played on three Yankee Pennant winning teams (1976,’77 and ’78) and two World Championship clubs (1977 & ’78). The Yankees retired Munson’s uniform number 15.
When you talk about great competitors and you talk about winners, Thurman Munson scores very high on both counts. He was the captain and one of the leaders on some terrific Yankee teams. Munson was an excellent hitter with a lifetime batting average of .292.
I interviewed Munson in 1975 and asked him if he thought he would hit for a higher batting average if he were not catching every day. He said,”no” but he did go on to say if he were not catching he might hit with some more power.
As another great Yankee catcher, Bill Dickey once said, “Catching takes the spring out of your legs.” Thurman Munson took great pride in working with the Yankee pitching staff. Munson also threw out a high percentage of would-be base stealers during the course of his career.
Munson had a tremendous amount of heart and he took his game to another level in the post-season where his batting average was .357 Thurman Munson was an excellent ballplayer who died much too young.
Howard Kellman will be giving speeches in Indianapolis and in Minneapolis