Monday, July 14, 2008

Bobby Murcer, 1946-2008. R.I.P.

On Saturday, former New York Yankees outfielder turned broadcaster Bobby Murcer died at the age of 62 due to complications arising from brain cancer. Murcer had been diagnosed with the disease during Christmas of 2006.

Murcer played with the Yankees briefly in 1965 and 1966 but did not play his first full season until 1969 when he had the unenviable task of replacing Mickey Mantle in center field. Like Mantle, Murcer was a native of Oklahoma and it was nearly impossible to escape Mantle's shadow although he did put up decent numbers and played in five All-Star games. He played with the Yankees through 1974 when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Bobby Bonds. After playing for the Giants in 1975 and 1976, Murcer was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for NL batting champion Bill Madlock. In the middle of the 1979 season, Murcer returned to the Yankees in a trade for a minor leaguer and that is where he remained until his retirement in during the 1983 season.

Perhaps Murcer is best remembered for a game he played shortly after returning to the Yankees in 1979. Yankees fans do not remember 1979 with fondness as on August 2nd of that year their catcher Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash in practicing take offs and landings. Murcer delivered the eulogy at Munson's funeral. On August 6th, in a nationally televised game against the Baltimore Orioles, Murcer single handedly led the Yankees from a 4-0 deficit by hitting a three run homerun in the 7th and a two run single in the 9th to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory. Yankees manager Billy Martin had wanted to sit Murcer out but he insisted on playing in honor of Munson. After the game, Murcer give the bat to Munson's widow, Diane.

For most of the past two decades, Murcer has served as Yankees TV broadcaster. He leaves behind his wife Kay to whom he was married for 42 years and two children.

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