An All-Star Break….But Never a Shortage of Yankees Stories
Since there were no games tonight, I finally finished reading Marty Appel’s just-published Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain, which Doubleday was kind enough to send me for review.
Written by former Yankees PR director Marty Appel, who had collaborated on Munson’s by-the-numbers autobiography in 1977, the new book is a more thorough, objective and insightful portrait than the earlier effort.
I remember Munson as the anti-Reggie from the “Bronx Is Burning” years – the un-glamorous, blue-collar guy who was gruff with the media but won the hearts of the fans with his gritty play and stoic leadership as the Yankees catcher and captain.
Now, thanks to Appel, I have a more fully realized take on him, beginning with his childhood in Canton, Ohio. His father, Darrell Munson, badmouthed Thurman at every opportunity – even on the day that two Yankees executives arrived at the Munson home to sign the 21-year-old draft pick from Kent State to a pro contract.
Said general manager Lee MacPhail: “It was the strangest thing. There was his father, on what should have been a joyous day, lying on the couch in the living room. He barely said hello and didn’t join us at all for the signing. At one point he just hollered into us, ‘He ain’t too good on pop fouls, you know.'”
Thurman Munson found happiness with his wife, her family and their own children, and went on to great success with the Yankees – all of which is documented in the book. I enjoyed reading about his relationships with Steinbrenner and his teammates, as well as his interest in flying his own planes, which he shared with Tony Kubek.
“I think it’s great,” he told Tony, “the feeling of being alone for an hour or two by yourself. You’re up there, and nobody asks any questions. You don’t have to put on any kind of an act.”
On August 2nd, 1979, at the age of only 32, Munson crashed, burned and died in the plane he was piloting.
In one of the book’s most moving passages, Appel reprints the transcript of an ESPN interview with one of the two survivors of the crash. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time, as is the case when Appel goes around the horn, getting reaction to Munson’s death from his teammates, some having heard about it from strangers on the street. Even Carlton Fisk, with whom Munson had a fierce rivalry, was grief stricken.
“Carlton Fisk said, ‘People always said Boston-New York was Fisk vs. Munson and there was a personal rivalry. If we were, as people said, the worst of the best of enemies, it was because we had the highest amount of respect for one another…..I respect the man so much…And I’ll really miss him.'”
The story of how the Yankees came together and played the game of their lives right after Munson’s funeral is beautifully told.
If anyone’s looking for a complete, unvarnished look at Munson, Appel’s book gets it done. I highly recommend it.
On a MUCH lighter note…
Rich Mullins of the Tampa Tribune passed along a story he’s been tracking about Derek Jeter and the gargantuan house he’s building on Davis Islands – 30,000 square feet of English manor-style architecture. The seven bedroom, nine-bathroom waterfront manse is “roughly the size of a Best Buy,” says Mullins.
Apparently, the neighbors on Davis Islands, an exclusive enclave accessible only by a bridge connecting it to downtown Tampa, are not amused. Jeter’s home-to-be dwarfs their own mansions and, pending approval from city hall, will have a six-foot privacy fence surrounding it.
Seven bedrooms? Are Derek’s parents and assorted other relatives moving in? Or is he planning to have a wife and kids share the space with him?
Unfortunately, he hasn’t picked up the phone and confided in me. But after looking at pics of the construction, I’m thinking he’s either starting a family or hosting an an awful lot of parties.
Here’s the link to the photos.
…soon take on the look of this?
I read an article about Jeter’s house. Talk about not trying to fit into the neighborhood. I think if someone wishes to built something that large – and looks to make it so isolated – then living in a neighborhood is not the thing for them. Buy 100 acres out in the country and build your mansion there!
And thanks for the heads up on the book about Thurman Munson. As a Red Sox fan during that era, without a doubt there was an intense rivalry between Fisk and Munson but there was also a lot of respect.
I didn’t realize that there was a new Thurman Munson book coming out. I will definitely be getting a copy. Thurman was my favorite player at the time, and like most Yankees fans, I know exactly where I was when I heard the news of his plane crash. DJ’s house can’t be like Yankee Stadium…Yankee Stadium is too small! LOL! Is DJ planning to offer a room to every one of his past girlfriends? Geesh!
Great article. Haha Laugh out Loud! 🙂 I laughed so hard when you said that Jeter’s house was about the size of a Best Buy, and then put a pic of it! Great humor Jane, and good luck to your Yankees cuz they are going to need it against the O’s! Just kidding
Ah, Jeter’s obscene English-style pile. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard his house and Best Buy mentioned in the same sentence. I mean, seriously, who really needs a house that big? Or with more bathrooms than bedrooms for that matter.
Thanks for the link anyway. The captions on that gallery put a smile on my face…especially the one about it being hidden behind the telegraph pole… XD
I’ll think of Mr. Jeter everytime I’m in Best Buy which is quite frequently. That is a funny comparison.
It’s nice you took the time to write a little something about Munson’ death. It made me think by the same time about Corey Lidle who also died in similar conditions while he was playing for the Yanks.
I’ll definitely buy the book.
Regarding Jeter… if I lived in Tampa, I would sue him,just for the heck of it.
you know, it is bad Feng Shui when you live in front of a road, like when the house is a “T” like street but right in the middle of the top part of the “T”, i hope I explained myself correctly.. LOL
Now, he can sue the architects for not being Feng Shui oriented….
I remember reading the article in the Trib a few months ago. I thought it was very strange that he would go so big. As big as a Best Buy. Wow. Kinda neat, but not much of a “home.”
I’m hoping to get my next Plasma tv there. I hope that he offers Reward Zone points.
Hey Miss Jane …
Nice story by Jake Thomases about you in the Lohud Paper…congrats !!
Thanks for the review. I have a shelf full of Yankee books to read but I am going to put Munson at the top of the list. I’m ordering it today. I was in the car when the news of his death came over the radio. I just couldn’t believe it …a sure HOF player cut down in his prime. It was one of the most horrible days in Yankeeland and the game against Baltimore after his funeral was one of the most memorable.. I was there with tears streaming down my face along with everyone else in the Stadium. It seems like only yesterday and I can’t believe how the years flew by. Thurm we surely miss you…
Jeter’s house is something else …I guess he is expecting a lot of company once his playing days are over….I wonder if I’ll get an invite?? :o). Maybe he plans on starting his own little baseball team with some lucky lady (Minka?). Whatever his plans …he has the money so why not spend and boost the economy. Of course ..it probably should have been built on his own little Island somewhere. Good Luck DJ !!!
Here’s to an exciting second half of the season with a Championship 27 at the end of October.
Go Yankees 2009 !!!
Isn’t life strange…and fascinating…just this AM, Jersey Bob was telling me about this new book on Munson, who he LOVED, and how rotten his dad had been to him…I recall that on the Friday nite of The Game After, Yanks and O’s, how I was trying to watch it at a bar after our softball game — most local fans only half-cared, and I couldn’t hear — but what REALLY impressed me was that the Orioles took the field that night wearing black armbands too. I’ll never forget thinking what an incredibly classy thing that was — and I rooted my guts out for them in the ’79 Series, for what it was worth.
Lighter Side — the Jeet Mansion — our local daily rag agreed, it’ll be the size of a Best Buy at 30,875 square feet (!!). Their comment — “Unlike a Best Buy employee, he [Jeet] can show you the way to the car stereos.” Zing!
Wish I could’ve seen Munson play. My dad talks about how gritty and cool he was. Ideal fantasy boxing match: Munson v. Fisk. I say Munson woulda won.
I agree about the 100 acres, Julia. There must be some vacant swampland in FL that Jeter could have gotten his hands on.
I bet you’ll enjoy the Munson book, Scott. There’s a lot you already know, since you followed his career. But the relationship with his family was really startling to me.
I’m sure the Yankees will need some luck when we play the O’s, cal. Your guys always play us tough these days.
The funny thing about the house, anjakj, is that it sounds so “un-Jeter.” Not that I figured him for simple tastes, just not pretentious ones. But he’s an professsional athlete with a lot of money, and I guess this is what they aspire to.
Jeter=Best Buy, Cat. The gift that keeps on giving.
I thought of Cory Lidle too, jobrown. The cause of the both crashes was pilot error.
I thought all architects were Feng Shui oriented nowadays, Latinyankeerebel. But I’m hardly an expert on that subject!
Well, raysfanboy, they say a home is what you make of it. Maybe he plans to fill it with kids and toys and pets. Who knows? But you should definitely ring the doorbell and ask for a plasma TV. LOL.
That game against Baltimore after Munson’s funeral was one for the ages, Peggy. Talk about emotional. And yes, here’s to an exciting second half with a championship at the end!
“Jeet can show you the way to the car stereos.” LOL, Dave! Well, I hope he’s happy. At least he’s providing jobs for all those architects and construction people.
Fisk and Munson really did go at it, Jeff. According to the book, Munson thought Fisk was a pretty boy and probably resented the attention he got. Thurman was a strange dude – very moody – but had surprisingly good relationships with Steinbrenner and Reggie, two people he supposedly hated.
Wow, that story about Munson is so sad..I seriously was about to cry. I am such a wimp cry-baby sometimes. :}
Haha well to awnser your comment- it’s probably mostly because of the lake. It attracts tons of weird creatures.
-TC ( the creatures scare me sometimes )
I cry at everything, tribechick. A greeting card commercial can set me off. 🙂 And yeah, the lake would attract all sorts of creatures. The seagulls are cute but not the midges!
I’ve heard about Munson, I didn’t know He died. Thats so sad
He was a player who died much too young, Johnny.
As a foreign and young fun of U.S. football I didn´t know this story neither, very touchy..tThanks for reporting, and also for the photos of that time..so fascinating!
As a foreign fun of U.S. football I didn´t know this story neither, very touchy..thanks for reporting, and also for the photos of that time..so fascinating!