While you’re at it, my colleague Joe Auriemma conducted an excellent interview with Joe Girardi during which the Yankees manager reflected on how Munson was an influence on his career. The YES Network also ran a special feature where the Munson family reflects on the day that they learned of their beloved father’s death and how their lives changed on its pregame show before yesterday’s Yankees-White Sox game.
During the game the Chicago White Sox radio broadcast team recalled Munson as an all-out player who would beat your brains out for a win. Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis a catcher growing up, was a guest during the third inning and described how he admired his toughness. If you were a runner heading home and Munson was blocking the plate, he’d ensure you’d make contact with his shin guard before applying the tag. A long-time Yankees fan who I interviewed for my feature summed it up best: There was tough and then there was “Thurman tough.”
It’s ironic that August 2, 1979, the Yankees were in Chicago playing the White Sox in the same park where Munson played his final game. Whether he’s a Hall of Famer or not – my heart says yes but conventional wisdom and analysis suggests no – is immaterial. Munson is on the same level as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Yogi, Martin and Jackson: Yankee icons who made an impact on the field and in the hearts of fans. To this day we’re still talking about them as well as plenty of others.
For me, it’s back to covering the modern gang. The Yankees are off today before playing the Blue Jays in Toronto beginning tomorrow. Then Thursday marks the opener of a four-game showdown against the Red Sox.