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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bobby Murcer RIP

This is an unrelated taxi post although it was sparked by a customer of mine that I picked up at La Guardia airport on last Friday whom I was driving to a midtown hotel when I heard the news that Bobby Murcer died. I was extremely fond of Bobby Murcer and very sad to hear he passed on. ..but I was working so I had to keep driving and I mentioned the news to my passenger from Minnesota ..He responded "that's too bad" "he was a good baseball guy" ...I agreed...He then told me Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew was on the same plane as him and that he looked pretty good for an old timer. I told him I was a Yankee fan but that I did have a Harmon Killebrew baseball card from when I was a kid ..I told him it was one of the few cards I had at the time that had a 20 year career on the back of the card. My customer then asked me if I knew a lot about baseball and I told him "sure". He then said he had a trivia question that was about Bobby Murcer, so I told him "go for it" in my best Sly Stallone tone. His question was "What do Bobby Murcer, Mickey Rivers, and Claudell Washington have in common? " I pondered this query for a moment ..and said they all played the outfield for the Yankees, to which he replied "its a little deeper than that".....OK ..OK..I give up Mr. Minnesota , what is it ? "They were all traded at one time for Bobby Bonds", Barry Bonds father he replied. Good one , I'll use that tidbit in the future I told him. That's the taxi part of the story , now because I really respected Bobby Murcer I took a few of the best quotes written about him and am posting them here for anyone to read if you are a fan of the game or not. I was at Great Adventure amusement park for the first time when I heard the news that Thurman Munson died. Really put a damper on my Rolling Thunder, Lightning Loops and Log Flume experience that day. However a couple of days later Bobby helped myself and the city heal.

What might be Murcer's most memorable moment came on Aug. 6, 1979, in the wake of Yankees captain Thurman Munson's untimely death in a plane crash. Munson and Murcer had been close friends. As the Yankees returned to New York from Munson's funeral service in Ohio, manager Billy Martin suggested that Murcer -- who had delivered a moving eulogy for the catcher -- sit out that evening's game against the Baltimore Orioles. Murcer disagreed, telling Martin that something was telling him to play and that he did not feel tired. Dedicating his performance to Munson, Murcer drove in all of New York's runs in a 5-4 victory, slugging a three-run homer and a game-winning two-run single.

Lou Piniella recalled
"I remember when we went to Thurman's funeral, and that night Bobby hit that home run into the upper deck to win a baseball game," Piniella said. "I was so happy. "It's a sad day," Piniella said. "Just a wonderful person, a great teammate and a heck of a baseball player. [Wife] Kay and Bobby were good friends. I was informed about this about five minutes ago, and I knew that he was struggling. But, boy, you just don't think these sort of things happen, but they do. They happen frequently."

Murcer was the only Yankee to play with both Mickey Mantle and Don Mattingly, and was arguably the franchise's most popular player of the era immediately following Mantle's retirement after the 1968 season.

This excerpt picks up Murcer's story after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Christmas Eve 2006, and underwent surgery four days later.


"HEY, Carm," Yogi yelled over his shoulder to his beloved Carmen. "It's Mel ( Stottlemeyer) on the phone. He wants to know if we've heard anything about Bobby's autopsy down in Houston."

"Biopsy, Yogi!" Carmen shrieked in the background. "Biopsy! Bobby went to Houston to have a biopsy, not an autopsy!"

Yogi wasn't being premature. He was trying to protect me.

So when Mel called, Yogi wanted to be sure not to talk about anything that I had told him in confidence. And in the process, he committed a classic Yogism.

But let me state for the record about my trip to Houston: they did a bunch of things to me, but they did not perform an autopsy.

Great excerpt and another Yogism to boot.

Richard Sandomir of The New York Times had an excellent tribute to Mr. Murcer. This is the link, but here are a couple of the excerpts which resonated with myself.

Bobby Murcer created three distinct, intertwined sets of memories.

He was a very good and gracious player on some bad and mediocre Yankee teams.

He was a warm and friendly voice in the Yankees broadcast booth.

And he was a cancer victim who said cancer enriched his life.

He had become part of a network of cancer survivors, in person, online and on the telephone. He said he loved to pray with people he regarded as his new teammates and they seemed to touch each other acutely.

Well said by Mr.Sandomir....and in closing I'd like to say this:

I lost my mother when she was 57 to cancer, and she always felt that cancer victims are all on the same team, and that they should support and help each other prosper and beat that damned disease which has many forms but with faith and being tough you can fight it and fight it well. Bobby had the same fervor for helping people without showing any weakness til the very end.

62 is too young to go, for anyone. Damn.

Rest in peace Bobby. You deserve it. And, thanks for everything...

You were truly a King of New York.

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