Thurman Munson: Heart and Soul of the 1970s Yankees

Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees

Table of Contents

PositionStarting Catcher
Active years1969–1979
Teams (years)New York Yankees (1969–1979)
DraftNew York Yankees, the first round of the 1968
DebutAugust 8, 1969, Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics
Last gameAugust 1, 1979, Yankees vs. Chicago white sox
Date of BirthJune 7, 1947
Native placeAkron, Ohio, U.S.
BattedRight
ThrewRight
All-Star7× All-Star (1971, 1973–1978)
World Champions2× World Series champion (1977, 1978)
AL MVPAL MVP, 1976
Shirt retiredNew York Yankees No. 15
MLB AwardsAmerican League Rookie of the Year, 1970
  AL MVP, 1976
 3× Gold Glove Awards in 1973, 1974, and 1975
7× All-Star, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978
World Series Rings, 1977 and 1978
LegacyNew York Yankees No. 15 retired
Monument Park honoree
Thurman Munson Stadium, Canton, Ohio,
Thurman Munson Batting Award by Cape Cod Baseball League
NicknameTugboat, The Wall

The Bio

On August 2, 1979, a tragic event shook both New York City and the sports world. Thurman Munson, the Yankees’ beloved baseball captain, passed away in a plane crash, and the news circulated around 4 p.m. ET from Canton shocked baseball fans. Four days later, on August 6, the team’s owner, George Steinbrenner, flew the entire team to Canton to attend Thurman Munson’s funeral. 

The Yankees retired their number 15, which Thurman Munson wore, from the roster to honor him. On September 20, 1980, the team put up a plaque in Monument Park to pay tribute to the legendary player. The plaque includes parts of an inscription that Steinbrenner said about his captain:

“Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next … Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.”

During the years 1976–1978, the Bronx Bombers achieved great success in baseball. They won two World Series titles and three American League pennants during this period. Thurman Munson, the star catcher for the Yankees, played a crucial role in these victories with his exceptional skills on the field and his leadership both on and off the field. However, despite his significant contributions, Thurman Munson’s life was tragically cut short while he was at the peak of his outstanding career.

Thurman Munson, the Yankees’ beloved hero, tragically passed away at the young age of 32. Despite his untimely departure, the team and its supporters continue to cherish him. Known as “the heart and soul of the Yankees,” Thurman Munson had remarkable batting averages of .528, 320, and .320 during the World Series of 1976, 1977, and 1978, respectively.

From 1976 to 1978, he led the Yankees to the World Series every year, and they emerged victorious in the last two of those years. As the team’s catcher and captain, Thurman Munson was a crucial pillar of the great Yankees teams in the 1970s. His leadership and skills on the field made him an integral part of their success during that period.

In 1979, Thurman Munson had been playing in the league for over ten years. He had accomplished so much during his career, winning the Rookie of the Year award, being named MVP in 1976, and helping the team secure two consecutive world championships. In the Bronx Zoo, Thurman Munson was a prominent figure, always ready to stand up for what he believed was right, even if it meant confronting the team’s manager, Billy Martin, superstar Reggie Jackson, or anyone else who crossed his principles. He was known as “The Captain,” and the city of New York adored him, looking up to him as a true leader of the team.

During the championship years, Thurman Munson played a crucial role in keeping the Yankees’ pitching staff united and strong, which led to the end of their title drought. His teammates admired how fiercely he competed on the field. While his batting average and home runs were impressive, Thurman Munson’s greatness extended beyond just those statistics. He was instrumental in helping the Yankees win those pennants and championships. Without him, the team wouldn’t have achieved such success.

Thurman Munson showed great heroism when it really counted. In the 1978 American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals, he did something remarkable. In the eighth inning of a tied game, he hit a home run. This incredible hit was the longest home run he ever made in his career, and it resulted in the Yankees winning the game with a score of 6-5. 

Early life and career

Thurman Lee Munson was born on June 7, 1947, in Akron, Ohio. He was the youngest of four children in his family. His parents were Darrell Vernon Munson and Ruth Myrna “Smilie” Munson. After serving in World War II, Thurman’s father, Darrell, worked as a long-distance trucker but often changed jobs due to his sometimes unfriendly disposition.

Thurman Munson and his father had a somewhat difficult relationship. Even when he performed well on the baseball field, his father would still criticize him for any mistakes he made, like a passed ball, and wouldn’t give him much credit. As time passed, his father seemed more interested in talking about himself to reporters than praising his son’s achievements. On the other hand, Thurman Munson’s mother, Ruth, was a loving mom to all her children, and she openly admitted that Thurman was her favorite.

Thurman Munson went to Worley Elementary School in Canton, where he met his future wife Diana Dominick when they were both 12 years old. He began playing baseball in the Canton Mighty Midget League. As he got better, Thurman Munson moved up to the Junior Boys circuit, and eventually, he played for the American Legion Post #44 team. It was a journey of progress and growth for him as a baseball player.

He went to Lehman High School in Canton, where Thurman Munson excelled in multiple sports. He was the star player on the football field, basketball court, and baseball diamond. During his junior year, Thurman Munson started playing as a catcher for the baseball team. He accepted the position because no one can handle the fast-paced pitches of Jerry Pruett, a pitcher who later went undrafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth round of the 1965 amateur draft, on the Lehman roster.

A writer eventually questioned Thurman Munson about his choice to switch to the position of catcher. In response, he mentioned that his development as a catcher happened naturally. At that time, the defense wasn’t a top priority for him. He simply loved hitting, and it didn’t matter to him which position he played on the field.

During Thurman Munson’s final year at Lehman High School, more than 80 schools reached out to him, offering football scholarships. Some of these schools included Kansas, Ohio State, Michigan, and Syracuse. 

In his senior year, Thurman Munson had an amazing .581 batting average in baseball, and because of his outstanding performance, he was chosen for the All-Ohio team as a shortstop. His abilities impressed Arizona State and Ohio University, both of which offered him scholarships under the condition that he would join their baseball teams. Kent State was also interested in him and offered a full scholarship. Since his girlfriend, Diana, lived close to Kent State in Canton, he decided to accept their offer.

After excelling in his college years at Kent State, Thurman Munson emerged as a great career. He decided to pursue professional baseball at the end of his junior year. During that season, he achieved a remarkable batting average of .413 and set several offensive records at the school. His outstanding performance earned him a spot on the College All-American team, recognizing him as one of the top players in college baseball.

Yankees draft and MLB debut of Thurman Munson

The Yankees picked Thurman Munson as the fourth overall selection in the 1968 Major League Baseball draft. During his first full season in the minor leagues, he played for the Binghamton Triplets in 1968, where he had a batting average of .301, hit six home runs, and drove in 37 runs. In August of the same year, he got the chance to play in Yankee Stadium when the Triplets faced the Yankees in an exhibition game.

In 1969, while playing for the Syracuse Chiefs, Thurman Munson did exceptionally well, with a batting average of .363. Due to his performance, he got promoted to the New York Yankees, making it to the big leagues.

Thurman Munson got his opportunity to join the major league roster on August 8, 1969. The Yankees activated him to play in a weekend series against Oakland because their regular catcher, Frank Fernandez, had to go on reserve duty. To make Thurman feel at home, the Yankees gave him the number 15 jersey, which was the same number he wore during his college days. He received the jersey from Pete Sheehey, the Yankees’ equipment manager.

Thurman Munson had his first chance to play in the major leagues during the second game of a doubleheader against Oakland. He connected with a pitch from Catfish Hunter, then the A’s pitcher, in that game to record his first big league hit. Just two days later, Thurman Munson hit his first major league home run. It was the second of three consecutive home runs hit by the Yankees against Lew Krausse Jr. in a 5-1 victory over the A’s.

During his time in the major leagues, Thurman Munson, who was 5’11” tall and weighed 195 pounds, showed great performance. He went three for six in one of the games, hitting a home run and driving in three runs. However, he had to leave the team temporarily to fulfill his military duty.

For the season, Thurman Munson had a batting average of.256 with one home run and nine runs batted in. He had 97 plate appearances, managed to draw ten walks, and had one sacrifice fly, which resulted in 86 official at-bats. Due to these achievements, he was still technically considered a rookie when he entered the 1970 season.

The MLB Career took off

In 1970, Thurman Munson batted .302 with seven home runs and 57 runs batted in (RBI). He also made 80 assists as a catcher. Because of this, he was honored with the 1970 American League Rookie of the Year award.

The following year, in 1971, Thurman Munson received the first of his seven All-Star selections. During the All-Star game, he played as a catcher for the last two innings without getting an at-bat. As a fielder, Thurman Munson was exceptional, making just one error throughout the season. It happened during a game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 18 when opposing catcher Andy Etchebarren knocked Thurman unconscious during a play at the plate, causing him to lose the ball.

In addition to his remarkable defensive skills, Thurman Munson also displayed a great ability to control the game from behind the plate. He allowed only nine passed balls during the entire season and successfully caught 36 of the 59 base stealers attempting to steal, giving him an impressive 61% caught-stealing percentage.

Thurman Munson and Boston Red Sox’s Carlton Fisk had a long-standing feud during their time as catchers. Thurman would get annoyed whenever people praised Carlton Fisk. One notable incident that exemplified their rivalry, as well as the intense Yankees – Red Sox rivalry, happened on August 1, 1973, at Fenway Park.

During the game, the score was tied at 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning, and the Yankees had runners on first and third base. In that, Thurman Munson tried to score from third base when Gene Michael attempted a bunt, but it didn’t go as planned.

During a game between the Yankees and the Red Sox, Red Sox pitcher John Curtis threw his first pitch. Thurman Munson, the Yankees’ catcher, saw an opportunity to score and dashed toward home plate. However, things got intense as Gene Michael, the Yankees’ shortstop, tried to bunt but missed the ball.

As Thurman Munson approached the plate, Carlton Fisk, the Red Sox’s catcher, elbowed Michael aside to brace for the impact. Munson collided with Fisk, and though Fisk managed to hold onto the ball, the two players remained tangled together. Meanwhile, Felipe Alou, who was on first base, attempted to take advantage of the situation and advance.

The collision between Thurman Munson and Fisk sparked a heated confrontation that led to a ten-minute bench-clearing brawl involving players from both teams. As a result of the altercation, both Munson and Fisk were ejected from the game. According to sportswriter Moss Klein, the Fisk-Munson rivalry was at the center of the tension during that time period, which made this incident worsen the intense rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox.

In 1973, Thurman Munson earned a spot on the All-Star team for the second time and received the first of three consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He also showed his prowess as a powerful hitter for the Yankees, achieving a batting average of .300 for the first time since 1970. Moreover, he hit a career-high of 20 home runs during that season.

The following year, in 1974, Thurman Munson was selected to start in his first of three consecutive All-Star games. During the game, he had one hit in three at-bats, received a walk, and scored a run for his team. 

On June 24, 1975, during a game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thurman Munson got into a heated exchange with Mike Torrez, the Orioles’ pitcher. It started when Torrez hit Munson with a pitch in the first inning. Then, in the fourth inning, Torrez gave up a single to Munson. In the sixth inning, Torrez threw a pitch close to Thurman Munson’s head, which was a dangerous move. Umpire Nick Bremigan intervened and warned Torrez not to throw any more dangerous pitches at Munson. But this time, Torrez responded by blowing kisses toward Munson, adding to the tension.

The situation escalated, and both teams’ benches cleared, but fortunately, no punches were thrown. However, after Thurman Munson grounded out to end his at-bat in the eighth inning, he couldn’t hold back his frustration and charged toward the pitcher’s mound.

Despite the tension, Thurman Munson had an exceptional season in 1975, achieving a career-high batting average of.318. His impressive performance ranked him third in the league, just behind Rod Carew and Fred Lynn, solidifying his reputation as one of the top hitters in the league.

Yankees captain Thurman Munson

In the 1976 season, something special happened for Thurman Munson. The Yankees’ manager, Billy Martin, decided to make him the team’s captain, a significant honor. The last time a Yankee had been named captain was way back in 1939, when it was Lou Gehrig who received that title.

At first, Thurman Munson wasn’t sure if he should take on this responsibility, but after some thought, he accepted the role. Martin believed that Munson had the perfect mix of confidence and leadership skills to be a great captain. Speaking to the New York media, Martin said he has just the right amount of cockiness and that he was a born leader.

As captain, Thurman Munson helped lead the Yankees to an incredible season. They dominated the American League East, finishing a remarkable 10 ½ games ahead of the second-place team, Baltimore. In that particular year, Thurman Munson had an amazing season with the Yankees. He achieved a.302 batting average, hit 17 home runs, and also managed to drive in a career-high 105 runs. On top of that, he showcased his speed and skills by stealing 14 bases.

Because of his outstanding performance, Thurman Munson was recognized as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the American League, a huge honor for any player. During the playoffs, the Yankees faced off against the Kansas City Royals. Thurman Munson continued his exceptional performance, hitting an impressive.435 and even smacked two doubles during the series, helping the Yankees secure a victory in five games. 

In the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals, he batted an impressive.435 and contributed three runs batted in (RBI) and three runs scored. In the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Thurman Munson’s performance was even more outstanding. He batted an incredible.529, achieving two RBI and two runs scored.

Unfortunately, the Yankees were already behind in the World Series, trailing three games to none. Despite Thurman Munson’s amazing efforts, the Yankees couldn’t overcome the dominant “Big Red Machine” of the Cincinnati Reds, and they were ultimately swept in the Series.

However, Thurman Munson’s performance in the final game at Yankee Stadium was unforgettable. He went four for four, getting a hit in each of his at-bats. Even though the Yankees couldn’t secure a win, Munson’s performance was a highlight. He tied a long-standing record that Goose Goslin of the Washington Senators had set back in 1924 with six consecutive hits in the final two games of the World Series. 

In 1976, Johnny Bench, the catcher for the Reds, was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the World Series. After the World Series, people were comparing Bench to the Yankees’ catcher, Thurman Munson. Reds manager, Sparky Anderson, was asked about this comparison during a press conference. He praised Munson’s skills but emphasized that Johnny Bench was a special player and should not be compared to anyone else.

Thurman Munson overheard these comments as he entered the room, and it made him visibly upset. According to sportswriter Moss Klein, Munson expressed his frustration to Anderson and disagreed with the comparison. Thurman Munson had great respect for Johnny Bench, but he didn’t want anyone to compare him to such an outstanding player because it might not be fair to either of them.

The big years

Thurman Munson and the Yankees’ owner, George Steinbrenner, agreed on a five-year contract in early January of 1977. The contract gave the catcher a yearly salary of $250,000 as the team captain. Munson talked to the media and mentioned that he had a verbal agreement with Steinbrenner, stating that he would always be the highest-paid player on the New York team.

During the offseason in 1976, Thurman Munson convinced Steinbrenner to sign a powerful hitter named Reggie Jackson, who was a free agent. Reggie’s contract included extra rewards that made him earn more money than Munson.

Thurman Munson suggested that they should go and sign the big man, mentioning that he could carry the team like nobody else. However, the two had difficulties getting along, particularly after Jackson gave an interview to Sport magazine in late May. In the interview, Jackson asserted that he was “the straw that stirs the drink” and also commented that Thurman Munson believed he could be the same, but only caused trouble.

Throughout much of the year, the two men had bad feelings toward each other, but as the year went on, they eventually started to respect one another. They realized and acknowledged each other’s skills and how important they were to the team.

The 1977 season was a bit tense for the Yankees, but it ended up being a successful one. There were issues between Jackson and Thurman Munson, and Billy Martin and Steinbrenner argued about Reggie’s batting position. Behind the scenes, Thurman Munson and Steinbrenner still disagreed about Jackson’s contract. Interestingly, Munson had wanted Reggie to join the team and supported him in batting higher in the order.

Despite facing various injuries like sore knees, a bad thumb with nerve damage, and bursitis in his throwing arm, Thurman Munson was resilient and played through them. But a serious staph infection kept him out of eight games early in the 1977 season. Even with a cut on his throwing hand that required seven stitches, he stayed in the lineup. Surprisingly, he still had a great year, batting  .308 and achieving his third consecutive season with 100 RBIs. Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra praised Thurman Munson, considering him the best hitter in the league when there were runners on base.

In 1977, Thurman Munson had an impressive season, batting .308 and driving in 100 runs, making it three years in a row where he batted .300 or higher and had at least 100 RBIs. He became the first catcher to achieve this since Yankee Hall of Famer Bill Dickey did it from 1936 to 1939, and only Mike Piazza has done it since (from 1996 to 2000). The Yankees won the American League Championship again and faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Thurman Munson played exceptionally well, batting .320 with a home run and three RBIs, helping the Yankees win the series four games to two. Despite the Dodgers being known for their speed and base-stealing abilities, Thurman Munson managed to catch four out of six potential base stealers in the first four games of the series, keeping the Dodgers from running wild on the bases in the final two games.

Despite their disagreements and conflicts throughout the season, Reggie and Thurman Munson celebrated together during the post-game celebrations. However, Munson, who had been requesting a trade all year, was still firm in his desire to be traded to Cleveland so that he could be closer to his family.

In 1978, the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees had a tight race for the division title. The Red Sox, who once had a 14-game lead, battled the Yankees right up to the end of the season. After a competitive September, both teams ended the regular season tied for first place. To decide the division winner, they scheduled a sudden-death playoff game between the two teams.

On October 2, 1978, they played a tiebreaker game at Fenway Park in Boston. The stadium was full with fans eager to see who would win. The Red Sox had a 2-0 lead as the game entered the top of the seventh inning. But then, with two runners on base and two outs, Bucky Dent, a shortstop not known for hitting many home runs, surprised everyone by hitting a home run over the Green Monster in left field, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Thurman Munson followed with a double that brought in another run, extending the Yankees’ lead. In the eighth inning, Reggie Jackson hit a solo home run to give the Yankees an extra insurance run.

After winning the tiebreaker game, the Yankees faced the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs for the American League title. In Game Three of the series, the Yankees were losing 5-4 in the eighth inning when Thurman Munson hit a massive two-run home run off pitcher Doug Bird. The ball traveled an impressive 475 feet and landed in the Yankee bullpen in left-center field. This home run is considered one of the most clutch moments in Yankee post-season history. The Yankees won the game 6-5. 

The next day, they secured the American League crown and advanced to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. The Yankees won the 1978 World Series in six games, with Munson playing a key role. He batted .320 and drove in 7 runs during the series. He also caught the final out of the last game, securing the championship for the Yankees.

The Yankees faced the Dodgers in the World Series for the second year in a row, and this time the Yankees won in six games. The series started with the Yankees losing the first two games, but they fought back and won the next four games. Thurman Munson, who was known for performing well in the postseason, had a great series. He batted.320 and had 3 doubles and 7 RBIs for the Yankees, who became World Champions for the second consecutive year.

During the winter, Thurman kept talking to the media about wanting to play in Cleveland. But the Yankees didn’t want to trade him, just like they had done before, because he was one of the team’s most beloved players.

After winning the World Series in 1977 and 1978, Thurman Munson joined Johnny Bench as the second catcher to achieve the Rookie of the Year, MVP, Gold Glove, and World Series title during his career. Later on, Buster Posey became the third catcher to achieve the same feat. Thurman Munson and Posey are the only two catchers who were college baseball All-Americans and also won the Rookie of the Year, MVP, Gold Glove, and World Series titles.

Death

The 1979 season didn’t go well for the Yankees because many important players got injured, which affected their overall performance. Despite batting .288, Thurman Munson was not selected for the All-Star team. The constant demands of catching were starting to affect Munson’s performance, and he was feeling homesick. Since 1977, he has been asking to be traded to the Cleveland Indians to be closer to his family in Canton. Thurman Munson was even thinking about retiring after the season. By the end of July, the Yankees were in fourth place, fourteen games behind Baltimore, with a record of 57-48.

In early July, Thurman Munson bought a brand new airplane called the Cessna Citation. It cost him a lot, about 1.25 million dollars. He got this fast jet to fly between New York and Canton on his days off from baseball. His goal was to spend more time with his wife and kids.

In early August, Thurman Munson wanted to go to Canton on his day off. He asked his teammates, Reggie Jackson, Lou Pinella, and Bobby Murcer, to fly with him in his new plane. But all three of them said no because they already had other plans and felt a bit nervous about flying with Thurman in his new plane.

On August 2, 1979, in the early afternoon, Thurman Munson went to the Canton-Akron airport to practice flying his new Cessna twin-engine jet. He had only 34 hours of flying experience with this plane. Thurman Munson asked two friends, David Hall, who had been his flight instructor before, and Jerry Anderson, to join him on his practice flights.

After two successful landings, the plane took off again. But during the final approach, the air controller at the Akron Canton Airport told Thurman Munson to land on a different runway. Thurman’s former flight instructor, David Hall, said he felt the plane was losing altitude as Thurman lowered the landing gear. Hall also thought they were too low to land on the elevated runway, which was 50 feet higher than the ground where they eventually crashed.

As the jet descended, it hit the tops of three trees before crashing into a stump on the ground. The plane spun around and finally stopped 600 feet away from the runway.

After the crash, Thurman Munson’s friends, David Hall and Jerry Anderson, said that Thurman immediately asked if they were okay and needed help. Both of them managed to get out of the plane without any problems, but they couldn’t get Thurman Munson out because he was injured and stuck in his seatbelt.

They tried their best to help him, but the inside of the cockpit was very hot and there was a fire, making it difficult for them to unhook his seatbelt. Sadly, they had to give up their rescue attempts as the fire grew worse. Even though emergency personnel arrived at the airport quickly, they couldn’t reach Thurman Munson in time, and he lost his life in the fire. 

The funeral for Thurman Munson took place at the Canton Civic Center. All the Yankees players and staff traveled to Ohio together on a special plane that George Steinbrenner arranged. There was a picture of Thurman Munson in his Yankee uniform near the closed coffin, and six of his close friends from Canton helped carry it. Father Robert Coleman from St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Canton led the ceremony.

Many important people from the baseball world and his former teammates attended the funeral, along with a big crowd of people gathered outside the Civic Center to pay their respects and say goodbye to Thurman.

Thurman Munson’s Legacy

Thurman Munson was a baseball star, making it to the All-Star game seven times. He had an impressive career batting average of .292 with 113 home runs and 701 runs batted in. Not only was he great at hitting, but he was also known for his outstanding fielding skills, winning the Gold Glove Award three years in a row (1973–75).

What made Thurman Munson truly special was his unique achievement in baseball history. He’s the first player ever to be named a College Baseball All-American and then go on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, MVP Award, Gold Glove Award, and a World Series championship in the Major Leagues.

When it came to postseason games, Thurman Munson was outstanding. He is the only catcher in MLB history to have a batting average of at least.300+ (.357), drive in 20 runs (22) and make 20 defensive caught stealings (24). 

The Yankees showed great respect for Thurman Munson after his passing. They retired his uniform number 15, which means no other player will wear that number again. They also dedicated a plaque to him in Monument Park, a special area at Yankee Stadium to honor their greatest players.

Munson was known for giving his teammate Reggie Jackson the nickname “Mr. October.” This nickname became famous because Reggie Jackson was an outstanding player, especially in the postseason games that happened in October. Thurman’s nickname for him recognized his unmatched performances during those important games.

Greatest Moments

Thurman Munson was a star in postseason games, which are the important games after the regular season. He had a very high batting average of .357 in those games, and he hit three home runs, batted in 22 runs, and scored 19 runs. In the World Series, the biggest championship game, his batting average was even better at.373.

Thurman was also excellent at defending the team against baserunners trying to steal bases. He threw out 44.48% of those runners, which is very impressive and ranks him 11th on the all-time list of catchers with the best throwing accuracy.

  • 1st all-time – Singles in World Series, 9
  • 10th all-time – Batting average by catcher,.292
  • 11th all-time – Postseason batting average,.357
  • 11th all-time – Caught stealing percentage
  • 16th all-time – On base percentage by catcher
  • 20th all-time – OPS by catcher
  • 24th all-time – Slugging by catcher
  • 26th all-time – Hits by catcher
  • 26th all-time – Runs by catcher
  • AL Rookie of the Year (1970)
  • AL MVP (1976)
  • 3× Gold Glove Award
  • 3 AL Pennants
  • 2 World Series titles
  • 7× All-Star

Thurman Munson’s Awards

  • 1970 — AL Rookie of the Year
  • 1973 – AL TSN All-Star
  • 1974 –  AL TSN All-Star
  • 1975 – AL TSN All-Star
  • 1976 – AP All-Star
  • 1976 – AL MVP
  • 1976 – AL TSN All-Star
  • MVP – (rank, share)
  • MVP – 1970 AL (19, 4%)
  • MVP – 1973 AL (12, 13%)
  • MVP – 1974 AL (26, 2%)
  • MVP – 1975 AL (7, 21%)
  • MVP – 1976 AL (1, 90%)
  • MVP – 1977 AL (7, 18%)
  • MVP -1978 AL (22, 2%)  All-Star Games
  • All-Star Player – 1971 
  • All-Star Player – 1973
  • All-Star Player – 1974 (C)
  • All-Star Player – 1975 (C)
  • All-Star Player – 1976 (C)
  • All-Star Player – 1977 
  • All-Star Player – 1978
  • Hall of Fame – 1981 BBWAA (15.5%)
  • Hall of Fame – 1982 BBWAA ( 6.3%)
  • Hall of Fame – 1983 BBWAA ( 4.8%)
  • Hall of Fame – 1984 BBWAA ( 7.2%)
  • 1985 BBWAA ( 8.1%)
  • 1986 BBWAA ( 8.2%)
  • 1987 BBWAA ( 6.8%)
  • 1988 BBWAA ( 7.5%)
  • 1989 BBWAA ( 6.9%)
  • 1990 BBWAA ( 7.4%)
  • 1991 BBWAA ( 6.3%)
  • 1992 BBWAA ( 7.4%)
  • 1993 BBWAA ( 9.5%)
  • 1994 BBWAA ( 6.8%)
  • 1995 BBWAA ( 6.5%)

FAQS about Thurman Munson

How did Thurman Munson die?

The death of Thurman Munson happened on August 2, 1979. His Cessna Citation airplane went down during a touch-and-go landing practice at Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio. After crashing into a tree, Munson’s plane caught fire. He died because he was trapped and could not get out in time. 

When did Thurman Munson die?

Thurman Munson died on August 2, 1979.

In what year did Thurman Munson die?

Thurman Munson died in 1979 on August 2.

How much is a Thurman Munson baseball card worth?

Approx. $2200.0.

How old was Thurman Munson when he died?

Thurman Munson died on August 2, 1979, at the age of 32.

What happened to Thurman Munson?

On August 2, 1979, New York Yankees catcher and legend Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. The accident that claimed his life happened as he was flying his Cessna Citation out of Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio. While attempting a touch-and-go landing, Munson’s plane lost altitude and crashed into a neighboring field. He died in the crash, despite the best efforts of his friends and the emergency services. The baseball world as a whole was saddened by his early passing. He was mourned by the Yankees and his fans.

Which Catcher took over for Thurman Munson?

Jerry Narron was the catcher who took over for Munson after his death. He became the Yankees’ primary catcher on August 3, a day after Munson died in a plane crash. Jerry Narron took over as the primary catcher for the New York Yankees for the remainder of the 1979 season.

When was Thurman Munson born?

Thurman Munson was born on June 7, 1947.

Where was Thurman Munson’s last game?

At old Comisnkey Park in Chicago. It was August 1, 1979. 

Who was with Thurman Munson when he died?

Thurman Munson was with his two friends, David Hall and Jerry Anderson, when he died in the plane crash on August 2, 1979. They were the passengers on the Cessna Citation twin-engine jet that crashed at the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio. Both Hall and Anderson survived the crash, but Munson tragically lost his life in the accident.

In which world series did Thurman Munson die?

In 1979, during the regular season, Thurman Munson died. During his career, he was the New York Yankees’ captain and caught for them in three World Series (in 1976, 1977, and 1978), with the Yankees winning in 1977 and 1978. He died on August 2nd, 1979, before the postseason and World Series games that year. 

How much is a Thurman Munson autographed baseball worth?

Thurman Munson’s signed baseball can vary in price. A single signed ball is the most in-demand Munson piece of memorabilia, short of a quality game-used item, and can range in value from $1,000 to $8,000 based on condition.

Where did Thurman Munson crash his airplane?

Thurman Munson crashed his airplane at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport in North Canton, Ohio, on August 2, 1979. The tragic accident occurred during a practice flight session in his Cessna Citation twin-engine jet.

Who replaced Thurman Munson?

After Thurman Munson’s untimely death in 1979, Jerry Narron took over the catching duties for the New York Yankees for the remainder of the 1979 season.

How much is a 1979 Thurman Munson baseball card worth?

The typical price for a “1979 Thurman Munson” card is $6.21. Prices of recently sold comparables range from one dollar up to $5,825.00.

Where did Thurman Munson live?

Thurman Munson lived in Canton, Ohio, for most of his life. He was born in Akron, Ohio, and attended school in Canton. He continued to reside in Canton even during his time playing for the New York Yankees.

What did the Yankees do with Thurman Munson’s body after he died?

After Thurman Munson’s tragic death in the plane crash, his body was taken to Canton, Ohio, for a funeral and memorial service. The New York Yankees honored him by immediately retiring his uniform number 15, and they dedicated a plaque to him in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. His body was laid to rest at Sunset Hills Burial Park in Canton, Ohio.

What day did Thurman Munson die?

Thurman Munson died on August 2, 1979.

What caused Thurman Munson’s plane crash?

It is speculated that what caused Thurman Munson’s death was the pilot didn’t realize they needed to keep enough velocity up during landing and didn’t do anything to keep it up.

Who is Thurman Munson?

Thurman Munson was a professional baseball player who played as a catcher for the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball (MLB). He was born on June 7, 1947, in Akron, Ohio, and played his entire MLB career with the Yankees from 1969 to 1979. Munson was a seven-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, and the American League MVP in 1976. He helped the Yankees win two World Series championships in 1977 and 1978. Tragically, he died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979, at the age of 32. Munson’s legacy as a great catcher and leader in baseball is still remembered and respected today.

How much is a Thurman Munson autographed Yankee glove worth?

$5,500.00 or more.

What number was Thurman Munson?

15

What type of plane was Thurman Munson killed in?

Thurman Munson was killed in Cessna Citation twin-engine jet.

Where did Thurman Munson go to high school?

Thurman Munson attended Lehman High School.  Here, he was captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams.

When did Thurman Munson play ball?

8 August 1969.

Why is Thurman Munson not in the Hall of Fame?

The Sporting News thought that since he didn’t get into Cooperstown the first time he was on the list, which was only two years after he died, fewer baseball writers have voted for him in the years since. They also think that the fact that he only played for 11 seasons affected him.

What did Thurman Munson die from?

Thurman Munson died in a plane crash 

How many career RBIs does Thurman Munson have?

Thurman Munson had a career batting average of .292 with 113 home runs and 701 runs batted in (RBI).

How old was Thurman Munson?

Munson Thurman was 32 years old when he died.

How to get a 1978 Topps Thurman Munson card graded?

To get a 1978 Topps Thurman Munson card graded, carefully package the card, complete the grading company’s submission form, and send it to their designated address. Then wait for the results and receive the graded card with a certification label indicating the card’s grade and authenticity.

Who was the catcher after Thurman Munson?

Jerry Narron became the Yankees’ primary catcher on August 3, one day after Thurman Munson, the team’s catcher, died in an airplane crash in Canton, Ohio.

What did Thurman Munson die of?

The death of Thurman was attributed to pilot error as he was practicing touch-and-go landings at the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio.

How many years has Thurman Munson been dead?

As of the current year (2023), Thurman Munson has been dead for 44 years. He passed away on August 2, 1979.

What number did Thurman Munson wear?

N0. 15

Who plays at Thurman Munson Stadium?

The renovated stadium is home to the McKinley Bulldogs Baseball Team, the Malone University Pioneer Baseball Team, and the Ohio Men’s Senior Baseball League.

How much is an autographed picture of Thurman Munson?

On the market today, signed Munson memorabilia can sell for as little as $500 or as much as $10,000, depending on the quality of the item.

Who was better? Thurman Munson vs Carlton Fisk

Munson’s career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was 43.3 throughout his ten full seasons. Fisk has a career WAR of 63.7 over 21 seasons. Based on longevity, this is to be expected.

Thurman Munson Yankees was how tall?

Thurman Munson, the former Yankees catcher, was approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall.

How many career home runs does Thurman Munson have?

113 home runs

How many world series did Thurman Munson win?

2

When did Thurman Munson join the Yankees?

18 August 1969

How good was Thurman Munson at throwing out runners?

Munson threw out 44.48% of base runners who tried stealing a base on him, ranking him 11th on the all-time list.

How many all-star games did Thurmond Munson play in?

Thurman Munson was an All-Star seven times in his 10-year MLB career, but he died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979. He was only 32 years old.7 Jun 2.

The Stats

SUMMARYWARABHHRBARRBISBOBPSLGOPSOPS+
Career46.153441558113.29269670148.346.410.756116

Standard Batting Games by Position

YearAgeTmLgGGSBattingDefensePC1B2B3BSSLFCFRFOFDHPHPR
196922NYYAL2624262502500000000010
197023NYYAL1321191321250125000000000120
197124NYYAL1251141251170117000000110110
197225NYYAL140132140132013200000000080
197326NYYAL147142147142014200000000150
197427NYYAL144140144136013600000000431
197528NYYAL1571551571340130201010122220
197629NYYAL15214815212801210000209112140
197730NYYAL1491461491360136000000001030
197831NYYAL154153154138012500000013131410
197932NYYAL9796979108830000000510
11 Seasons142313691423130401277501030242777511

Postseason Batting

YearAgeTmLgSeriesOppRsltGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTBGDPHBPSHSFIBBWPAcWPA
197629NYYALALCSKCRW5232331020030101.435.435.522.95712100000.3914.6%
197629NYYALWSCINL417172900020001.529.529.5291.0599000000.100.1%
197730NYYALALCSKCRW522213610150002.286.273.476.7491000010-0.02-1.7%
197730NYYALWSLADW627254820130028.320.370.520.89013100010.267.9%
197831NYYALALCSKCRW418182510120000.278.278.500.7789100000.5815.2%
197831NYYALWSLADW628255830071037.320.393.440.83311100000.179.1%
3 Yrs (6 Series)3013512919469032211519.357.378.496.87464400111.4845.2%
3 ALCS146362821402100103.339.333.500.83331200100.9528.1%
3 WS16726711255011210516.373.417

Career graph

Hall of FameAll-Star GamesAwardsMVP (rank, share)
81 BBWAA (15.5%)1982 BBWAA ( 6.3%)1983 BBWAA ( 4.8%)1984 BBWAA ( 7.2%)1985 BBWAA ( 8.1%)1986 BBWAA ( 8.2%)1987 BBWAA ( 6.8%)1988 BBWAA ( 7.5%)1989 BBWAA ( 6.9%)1990 BBWAA ( 7.4%)1991 BBWAA ( 6.3%)1992 BBWAA ( 7.4%)1993 BBWAA ( 9.5%)1994 BBWAA ( 6.8%)1995 BBWAA ( 6.5%)
1971 *1973 *1974 (C)1975 (C)1976 (C)1977 *19780 AL Rookie of the Year1973 AL TSN All-Star1974 AL TSN All-Star1975 AL TSN All-Star1976 AP All-Star1976 AL MVP1976 AL TSN All-Star1970 AL (19, 4%)1973 AL (12, 13%)1974 AL (26, 2%)1975 AL (7, 21%)1976 AL (1, 90%)1977 AL (7, 18%)1978 AL (22, 2%)
Gold Gloves
Weekly Awards
Wins Above ReplacementWAR Position Players
3 AL (C)1974 AL (C)1975 AL (C)All multiple winners    1973 AL  7.2 (8th)
May 4th – AL Player of the Week 1976 Jul 
25th – AL Player of the Week
1973 AL  7.2 (8th)73 AL   – 7.2 (3rd)1975 AL – 6.6 (7th)Career –  46.1 (249th)
Offensive WARBatting AverageOn-Base%Slugging %
1973 AL  6.2 (4th)1975 AL  5.8 (7th)1976 AL  5.4 (7th)1977 AL  5.1 (10th)1970 AL  .302 (8th)1973 AL  .301 (6th)1975 AL  .318 (3rd)1976 AL  .302 (9th)1978 AL  .297 (10th)1970 AL  .386 (9th)1973 AL  .487 (6th)
On-Base Plus SluggingGames PlayedAt BatsHits
1973 AL  .849 (10th)1975 AL  157 (8th)5  AL  597 (7th)1976 AL  616 (6th)1978 AL  617 (8th)1975 AL  190 (3rd)1976 AL  186 (4th)1978 AL  183 (4th)
Total BasesDoublesRuns Batted InSingles
1973 AL  253 (10th)1976 AL  266 (6th)1973 AL  29 (6th)1975 AL  102 (5th)1976 AL  105 (2nd)1972 AL  117 (7th)1975 AL  151 (1st)1976 AL  141 (3rd)1977 AL  132 (9th)1978 AL  149 (2nd)
Adjusted OPS+Extra Base HitsTimes On BaseOffensive Win %
1973 AL  142 (7th)1973 AL 53 (5th)1975 AL  241 (8th)1973 AL  .657 (10th)
Hit By PitchSacrifice FliesIntentional Bases on BallsDouble Plays Grounded Into
970 AL 7 (10th)1971 AL 7 (7th)1976 AL 9 (4th)1974 AL 8 (8th)1975 AL 10 (2nd)1976 AL 10 (5th)1978 AL 10 (5th)1974 AL 12 (5th)1977 AL 8 (10th)1975 AL 23 (4th)1976 AL 17 (8th)1978 AL 20 (4th)
Power-Speed #AB per SOOuts MadeBase-Out Runs Added (RE24)
1976 AL 15.4 (10th)975 AL  11.5 (10th)1976 AL  16.2 (2nd)1976 AL  469 (9th)1978 AL  468 (9th)1975 AL  33.52 (5th)
Win Probability Added (WPA)Championship WPA (cWPA)Base-Out Wins Added (REW)Def. Games as C
1975 AL 4.2 (3rd)975 AL 4.3 (3rd)1976 AL 2.0 (8th)1975 AL 3.4 (5th)Def. Games as C1970 AL 125 (1st)1971 AL 117 (4th)1972 AL 132 (1st)1973 AL 142 (1st)1974 AL 137 (2nd)1975 AL 130 (3rd)1976 AL 121 (4th)1977 AL 136 (5th)Career 1,278 (63rd)
Putouts as CAssists as CErrors Committed as CDouble Plays Turned as C
1970 AL 631 (4th)1973 AL 673 (4th)1974 AL 743 (2nd)1975 AL 700 (3rd)1976 AL 537 (5th)1978 AL 666 (4th)Career 6,253 (80th)1970 AL 80 (1st)1971 AL 67 (2nd)1972 AL 71 (2nd)1973 AL 80 (1st)1974 AL 75 (1st)1975 AL 95 (2nd)1976 AL 78 (2nd)1977 AL 73 (5th)Career 742 (91st)1970 AL 8 (4th)1972 AL 15 (1st)1973 AL 12 (2nd)1974 AL 22 (1st)1975 AL 23 (1st)1976 AL 12 (4th)1977 AL 12 (3rd)1978 AL 10 (4th)1979 AL 10 (5th)1970 AL 11 (3rd)1972 AL 11 (2nd)1973 AL 11 (1st)1974 AL 10 (2nd)1975 AL 14 (1st)Career 82 (90th)
Passed BallsStolen Bases Allowed as CCaught Stealing as CCaught Stealing %
1970 AL 10 (5th)1973 AL 10 (4th)1975 AL 9 (4th)1976 AL 12 (1st)1977 AL 10 (2nd)1978 AL 8 (2nd)1974 AL 72 (3rd)1976 AL 91 (3rd)1970 AL 33 (5th)1971 AL 36 (3rd)1973 AL 47 (2nd)1975 AL 60 (3rd)1976 AL 50 (3rd)Career 427 (92nd)
1970 AL 51.6 (4th)1971 AL 61.0 (1st)1972 AL 47.5 (2nd)1973 AL 48.5 (3rd)1975 AL 50.4 (1st)1978 AL 45.0 (5th)1979 AL 45.8 (5th)
Total Zone Runs as C (s.1953)Range Factor/9Inn as CRange Factor/Game as CFielding % as C
70 AL 9 (2nd)1971 AL 6 (2nd)1973 AL 9 (2nd)1975 AL 8 (2nd)Career 34 (42nd)
1975 AL 6.32 (4th)1978 AL 6.16 (2nd)1974 AL 5.97 (3rd)1975 AL 6.12 (1st)1978 AL 5.82 (2nd)1971 AL.998 (1st)

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One thought on “Thurman Munson: Heart and Soul of the 1970s Yankees

  1. What Yankee fans wouldn’t give to have Munson, or someone just like him, on this joke-of-a-team today.
    He was a great ballplayer and an even greater human being.
    His death hit Yankee fans like a kick in the nuts. I know I’ll never forget him, not until the they plant my old carcass in the ground.

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