Saturday, August 2, 2008

In the stands on 8/6/79

I've attended numerous Opening Day, Playoff, and World Series games at Yankee Stadium over the past 33 years, but by far my greatest Yankee Stadium memory is August 6th, 1979.

As most people know, Bobby Murcer delivered one of the eulogies at Thurman Munson's funeral earlier in the day, then knocked in all 5 runs in a stirring 5-4 comeback victory over the Orioles (on national television) that night.

My father and I (I was 11 years old) got to the park early for batting practice. The stands were pretty full, but the mood was very somber. Most of the people in the stands were talking about Thurman Munson (mostly in hushed tones), many were crying.

Ken Singleton played RF that night for the Orioles. He was very friendly with the fans before the game. He shagged fly balls, and purposely botched some of the balls to give everyone a laugh. I remember thinking that he seemed like a really nice guy.

The Yankees were down 4-0 in the 7th inning. Bobby Murcer came up with two runners on and drilled a home run to right field to make it a 4-3 game. My father and I were sitting in the RF stands. As the home run ball sailed over our heads, I briefly contemplated throwing my glove at the ball ( in those days, I brought my glove to every game) to knock it down, but chickened out at the last second. I'll never forget the vision of the laces on the ball spinning as it whizzed right over us!

When Murcer came up in the 9th inning with two runners in scoring position and the Yankees still trailing4-3, everyone in the park just knew that he would get a hit to win the game. When he did just that, nobody was surprised.

After the game ended, the fans in the stadium didn't wan't to leave. Everyone just kept clapping for Bobby (and for Thurman). A little while later, Bobby came on to the field (in his socks) to a thunderous ovation.

Despite the fact that the outcome had very little effect on the standings (1979 was just not the Yankees year), this game provided me with a wonderful and lasting memory.

Years later (a few weeks after being diagnosed with brain cancer), Bobby Murcer was a guest on Michael Kay's radio program. I called in and spoke to Bobby for a few minutes. I thanked him for providing both me and my father with a very special memory.

Bobby Murcer - Rest in peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for posting. A very beautiful story.