Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain

Thurman Munson Book CoverWhen he visited George Steinbrenner in his office at Yankee Stadium, Thurman Munson used to wear his spikes and put his feet up on Steinbrenner’s desk to knock off the mud, just because he knew it bugged the boss.

After his Yankees lost the 1976 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, Munson called out Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson for comparing him unfavorably to Johnny Bench. Munson was also contemptuous of Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, whom he regarded as brittle.

He flew his own jet. Badly.

For reasons that have as much to do with his personality and the circumstances of his death as they do with his career in baseball, Thurman Munson’s story remains compelling thirty years after his death.

Few people came to know him well, but having promoted Munson when he was head of public relations with the Yankees, Marty Appel seems to be the right guy to have written about the Yankee catcher. Appel is privy to the behind-the-scenes intrigue and foolishness that characterized the Yankees during Munson’s years in New York, but he also knew about Munson’s history. In one of the book’s creepier passages, Appel gives readers Munson’s father, a selfish, bitter misanthrope who apparently came to his son’s funeral only to mock him and gloat.

Marty Appel has characterized this book as his attempt to “fill in the gaps Thurman left in telling his own story” when Appel and Munson produced “a pretty traditional baseball biography” in 1978. In that respect it feels completely successful.

This program aired on August 6, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Bill Littlefield

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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