Yankee Memorable Moment
By Marty Appel
Thurman Munson’s death on August 2, 1979, shook us all. It was a genuine “where were you when you heard the news” moment. The misty night at Yankee Stadium after his death, when we observed the lengthy period of silence and the catcher’s position stood empty, was haunting. But the game played against Baltimore on the night of his funeral, August 6, was the most memorable of all.
Bobby Murcer, along with Lou Piniella, had delivered a eulogy in Canton, Ohio that morning. He wrote it himself and it was eloquent. Murcer had returned to the Yankees for his second tour of duty just a few weeks before; he was Thurman’s closest friend on the team. It was remarkable that he had just been reacquired in time for all of this. And despite the enormous burden of his morning assignment, the fatigue and emotions felt by everyone, and the sad flight back from Canton, Bobby not only chose to play the game, but he rose to the occasion, as though in Thurman’s honor.
Ron Guidry was pitching, and although trailing 4-1, he refused to come out when Billy Martin went to the mound to get him in the 7th. “Win or lose, I’m going to finish this game for Thurman,” he said. Billy kept him in.
When the Yanks came to bat, Murcer hit a heroic 2-run homer to make it 4-3, his first since returning to the team he never wanted to leave. And in the 9th, with two on and two out, Bobby delivered a game-winning base hit to give the Yankees a 5-4 win. In the dugout, Murcer, in tears, hugged Piniella. It was one of those impossible moments that could only have happened at Yankee Stadium.
Marty Appel, author of “Now Pitching for the Yankees,” was the team’s public relations director and later executive producer of its telecasts.