A Tale of Munson, Murcer and Uncle Angelo

Thankfully, former Yankee outfielder and current Yankee broadcaster Bobby Murcer received a clean bill of health this week. Last week I blogged about Murcer and his latest brush with brain cancer.

Now I have a story that involves from Yankee catcher and captain Thurman Munson and Murcer…. with a very personal twist.

When Munson was killed in a plane crash in 1979, the entire Yankee team flew to Canton, Ohio, for the funeral on August 6. Two of Munson’s teammates delivered eulogies at the funeral, Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer.

During his eulogy, Murcer quoted my great uncle, Angelo Patri, the famed progressive educator, writer and philosopher. Murcer sobbed as he read: “The life of a soul on earth lasts longer than his departure. He lives on in your life and the life of all others who knew him.”

The words are from Uncle Angelo’s syndicated column, Our Children, and were written in 1928.

“In one sense there is no death,
The life of the soul on earth lasts beyond his departure.
You will always feel that life touching yours
That voice speaking to you — that spirit looking out of other eyes,
talking to you in the familiar things he touched…
Worked with…loved as familiar friends.
He lives on in your life
And in the lives of all others that knew him.”

Following Munson’s funeral, the Yankees returned to Bronx, where Uncle Angelo had become the first Italian-born American to become a school principal in 1907. That night the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles in a nationally televised game. Yankee manager Billy Martin wanted to give the emotionally drained Murcer the night off, but Bobby insisted on playing. Murcer single-handedly brought the Yankees back from a 4-0 deficit with a three-run homer in the seventh and a two-run single to win the game, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth.

Murcer never used the bat from the game again and gave it to Munson’s widow, Diana.


5 Comments on “A Tale of Munson, Murcer and Uncle Angelo”

  1. Tom Curran says:

    Rick, great piece on Murcer. But I also know of your uncle Angelo Patri. My late aunt Christine had a classmate named Jacob Garfinkle in the Bronx in the 1920’s. Garfinkle was a good kid, but wild. Their principal was Patri and knew Garfinkle had talent so instead of letting him drop out, he encouraged him to pursue acting. Garfinkle became the star John Garfield and credited Patri with turning his life around.

  2. […] Uncle Angelo’s words seem so appropriate for Bobby Murcer’s own passing. Below is an except from that March 8 blog, A Tale of Munson, Murcer, and Uncle Angelo. […]

  3. Kathy Irwin says:

    I’ve just discovered your great Uncle Angelo Patri’s writing and I am digging into it for advanced education as a 2009 schoolmistress. All the best to him and to you from Houston, Texas.
    Kathy Irwin

    • sportslifer says:

      Kathy, thanks so much for your kind note. My uncle pssed away in 1965, but his spirit lives on in his words. I would be very interested in hearing how your project goes, so stay in touch.

  4. […] eulogies to their fallen comrade at Munson’s funeral in Canton. In his eulogy, Murcer quoted Angelo Patri, a noted American educator,  author and philosopher and my great […]

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