Bobby Murcer: A Yankee for Life

Former Yankees outfielder and broadcaster Bobby Murcer lost his gallant battle with brain cancer yesterday and passed away at the age of 62.

When he first arrived with the Yankees in 1965, Murcer was billed as the next Mickey Mantle. And although he never achieved that lofty status, Bobby Murcer along with Thurman Munson was the heart of the Yankees in the late 60s and early 70s.

Murcer was a solid, dependable ballplayer, a five-time All-Star, and later a Yankee broadcaster who brought his knowledge of the game and sense of humor — spiced with a distinct Oklahoma twang — to millions of Yankee fans.

I never did get to meet Bobby in person, but I’ve written about him several times in my SportsLifer blog recently. Perhaps most poignant and fitting today is the reflective piece I wrote about Murcer’s eulogy at Munson’s funeral in 1979, where he used the words of my great uncle, Angelo Patri.

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.

I think I can speak for all Yankee fans today. You were a good man Bobby Murcer. We will miss you and we’ll never forget you.

A Tale of Munson, Murcer and Uncle Angelo

Published March 8, 2008

When Yankee captain Thurman 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.


2 Comments on “Bobby Murcer: A Yankee for Life”

  1. […] closest friends on the team, Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, delivered eulogies to their fallen comrade at Munson’s funeral in Canton. In his eulogy, […]

  2. […] closest friends on the team, Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, delivered eulogies to their fallen comrade at Munson’s funeral in Canton. In his eulogy, […]

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