by: Victor Suarez
Thurman Munson was a beloved and talented catcher for the New York Yankees, who tragically died in a plane crash in 1979 at the age of 32.
Munson was born on June 7, 1947, in Akron, Ohio. He was the youngest of four children, and his parents divorced when he was nine years old. Despite this, Munson found solace in sports, particularly baseball. He was a star player at Lehman High School in Canton, Ohio, and went on to attend Kent State University, where he played baseball and football.
In 1968, Munson was drafted by the Yankees in the first round, fourth overall pick. He quickly made a name for himself as a catcher, known for his strong arm and excellent defensive skills. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1970, and helped lead the Yankees to the World Series in 1976 and 1977, where they won both times.
Munson was not just a talented athlete, but also a fierce competitor and team leader. He was known for his tough and gritty playing style, and for his ability to motivate his teammates. He was named team captain in 1976, becoming the first Yankee to hold that title since Lou Gehrig.
Off the field, Munson was a devoted husband and father to his wife Diana and their three children. He was also an accomplished pilot, and often flew his own plane to and from games.
Tragically, Munson’s life was cut short on August 2, 1979, when he was practicing takeoffs and landings in his new Cessna Citation jet at Akron-Canton Airport. During one of his landings, the plane crashed short of the runway, killing Munson and injuring his two passengers.
Munson’s death was a devastating blow to the Yankees organization and to his fans around the world. He was remembered not just for his incredible talent on the field, but also for his leadership, toughness, and kindness off the field. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, and his number 15 was retired by the Yankees.
Thurman Munson remains an icon in the world of baseball, remembered for his contributions to the game and for the person he was both on and off the field.