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“Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain”

On the day Munson signed with the Yankees, his father openly criticized his playing skills to team executives; years later, he came to his son's funeral and taunted the closed casket. There's also, naturally, much more information about the plane crash that ended Munson's life, including the transcript of a lengthy interview with one of the survivors; again, however, the conclusion that Munson was a relatively inexperienced pilot who made fatal errors in judgment is not a new one.

Otherwise, Appel covers familiar territory, casting Munson as a journeyman ballplayer who inspired his teammates with his tenacious work ethic, but didn't get along with the press and couldn't stand Reggie Jackson or George Steinbrenner.


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Excerpts from several other baseball memoirs and transcripts from archival interviews with Munson extend the story, but do little to expand upon it. View Full Version of PW. More By and About This Author. During his lifetime, though, and certainly in his autobiography, Munson was reticent to share details of his youth.


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  • Book Review: Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain | The Hardball Times.

The youngest of four children, he grew up in Canton, Ohio, the town which he never left and which is today his final resting place, in a very difficult family atmosphere. His father, Darrell, the single most villainous character in the book, was a truck driver and a very intimidating, angry man.

Sports became for Thurman an escape from a hostile home life. A fist across the head.

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And I remember Mom off to the side crying and saying, Stop! Perhaps none of those sites was as important as Lehman high School.

I Was There When: Murcer's Tribute to Munson

When, despite receiving letters of interest from over 80 football programs, Kent State became the only school to offer Munson a full scholarship to play baseball, his decision about where to play became easy, and he went on to achieve legendary status at the school the only player in school history to have his number retired , earning first-team All-American honors following his junior year in In June of that year the New York Yankees selected him with the fourth pick of the amateur draft, and by the following year, after just 99 minor league games, Munson was in the major leagues to stay.

Those pre-Yankees years are vividly brought to life by many who played and coached with and against Munson at every level of competition, and are often done so with wildly visual anecdotes- like the time Munson and some of his Cape Cod League teammates were driving in a convertible to a road game and he threw a ball over an underpass from about yards away, only to catch it on the other side after the car sped up. Although Appel did not interview Diana for this book, they have corresponded, he explains, for almost forty years, and her singular contributions illuminate Munson the father as no one else could.

Still, Appel offers a unique perspective.

Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel

He had an inherently good side. As the book progresses, Appel masterfully builds to the plane crash by detailing how Munson had become increasingly torn between continuing his career in New York and the desire for the life he had built in Canton, including his burgeoning real estate ventures; in order to get home as fast as possible Munson took up flying, and his growing obsession with aviation led to the purchase and piloting of bigger and more powerful aircraft.

The account is vivid and stark, and it left me feeling the same sad way I did when I was seventeen years old and heard about the untimely death of one of my favorite players. For anyone who is a baseball fan or a fan of good biography, I recommend you read Munson: It reminds us all of just what a legend we lost.