August 2015 / 1976, 1973, 1979 This Day in Yankee History
Let’s take a look at this month in Yankee history – August.
Catchers are often the closest thing to true warriors in baseball and Thurman Munson was one of those guys. Munson was a good hitter, an excellent fielder, and a great leader. Every good team must have one and Munson filled that role for the Yankees.
As an illustration of that the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Munson was anointed team captain of the club in 1976. It was the first time the Yankees named a captain since Lou Gehrig completed his New York career in 1939.
Munson grew up in Ohio, played at Kent State, was a high draft of the Yankees in 1968, and spent only one season in the minors.
By August of 1979 Munson had been selected to seven All-Star teams. He broke into the majors in 1969 with a brief showing, but was rookie of the year in 1970. In 1976, Munson was the American League’s MVP. Six times he hit at least 10 home runs in a season, with a high of 20 in 1973.
As of early August of 1979, Munson had appeared in 97 games for the Yankees and was batting .288. He was in his 11th season with the club. A proud man Munson was often compared to Boston’s Carlton Fisk as one of the two best catchers in the American League, and to Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds, in a debate over who was the best of the trio in Major League baseball.
Munson wore a walrus mustache and could be gruff in his relations with sportswriters. Unlike some earlier generations of Yankees, Munson could not count on playing in the World Series every year. But he helped make New York good enough for the Yankees to appear in three Series in a row between 1976 and 1978. Whether it was the American League Championship Series or the World Series, Munson was always clutch in the playoffs. His lifetime average in three of each of those types of series was .378. In the ’76 World Series versus Cincinnati Munson batted .529
…And that is what happened this month in Yankee history – August.
Excerpted from Bronx Bombers: Yankee Home Run History by Lew Freedman published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group. For more of Yankee home run history, pick up your copy of Bronx Bomber today.
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