Bobby Murcer, 1946-2008
Say It Aint So Bobby
Part of my Americanization in the 1980s was being a Yankee fan. It was a bitterstriped experience. I got here in 1979, the year after the Yankees won the last of their World Series for a very, very long time; they wouldn’t win another until 1996, never recovering from being up 2 games to 0 against the Dodgers in 1981 and managing to lose (I remember a fly ball by Reggie Jackson, Mr. “I’m the stick that stirs the drink,” that did a lot to turn the Yankees’ fortunes for the worst). But part of the experience was getting attached to a few players that didn’t seem overtly vulgar, repulsive, self-aggrandizing and just plain obnoxious, as star athletes are required to be (it’s a clause in some of their contracts, depending on their agent and advertising sponsors).
One of those players in the 1980s was Bobby Murcer, the guy who never once swung at a first pitch in all the years I watched him. He may have been compared to Mickey Mantle when he first came up in 1965. He never matched Mantle, at least not on the field (and thankfully not off of it), but he made his mark: 252 home runs, 1,862 hits, a .277 career batting average. After that he moved into the announcer’s booth and we got to know his modesty and intelligence first hand. Now he’s dead. Brain tumor in 2006, the usual interventions and experiments, the usual futilities in the face of the most universal and persistent crime against humanity. He was 62. Too bad heads can’t roll over this, although knowing George Steinbrenner I’m sure he’ll fire somebody.