No. 244 Thurman Munson (Number 20 Catcher)

It is a bit strange that I picked Thurman Munson as my additional catcher in my hall of fame, because I was never a big fan of his. I always figured he had as big an ego as Reggie Jackson, but the press never got on him for it as he was the captain. Also, race might have had something to do with it. I liked Reggie even though he was egotistic because he was fun and seemed to enjoy the spotlight. Munson seemed to just look for ways he was superior, but also wanted the spotlight. He seemed to complain whenever someone got press over him.

He had a rivalry with Carlton Fisk who was the other catcher that could be argued to be the best in the American League at that time. I remember this story I read somewhere, but I wonder if it is true. A writer came up to Munson and said you are always running Fisk down, but he has one more assist than you. Munson grumbled something and said watch todays game. Munson then supposedly dropped two third strikes and threw the runner out at first, which is about as good a way as possible to get two cheap assists. Then Munson asked the writer after the game “Who leads in assists now?” Thus, telling the writer these stats don’t mean a thing.

However, now that I look at it this whole story seems strange. A writer is going to ask him a question about his assists against Fisk. Does he think that 1 assist proves anything? Maybe he meant they had about the same assists and worded it badly. Or was he just trying to add fuel to the fire. However, the assist didn’t prove anything as Munson easily proved. However, why should Munson care enough to bring it into the game? Did his ego get in the way? Did you think sports writers were dumb and you had to show them something to prove it? I don’t know, but it sure didn’t make me a Munson fan.

However, Munson was well respected by his fellow players and manager Billy Martin. He got the job done and wouldn’t back down from anyone. I’m guessing he did some work to protect his teammates and that was part of why he was made team captain and why I put him in my hall of fame.

Munson died in a plane crash during the 1979 season. He just turned 32 a couple of months before. It was a sad occasion for his family and teammates. I felt it, not as much as when Clemente died but I felt his loss also. A few years later I was in the baseball section at the bookstore (imagine that) and I saw a book where baseball writers picked the best story they wrote about baseball. There were 10 writers in the book, and I would say eight of them was about the death of Thurman Munson. I thought to myself why I would want to read a book which just gives me different stories about Thurman Munson dying.

A lot of them probably had to do with saying that baseball and sports is not important, and we need to realize it. But they are important. Rest time is important, and recreation is important. To me that Is why God put it into the 10 commandments. If you don’t believe in God, then that is why the Jews put the sabbath in the 10 commandments. They just went overboard with it in the millennium. Baseball and all the other recreation (movies, music, games, fast cars, and game boys) is to take your mind off the million things you have to worry about every day. That is important. That Is why we spend so much time on our hobbies. A lot about real life isn’t that fun. We need our little fantasy worlds. That is important and thus the game of baseball is important.

Now I will get off my high horse.

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