Book Review: Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain

July 15, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

I’ll be the first to admit it: My perspective on Thurman Munson is much different than the average Thurman Munson fan.

For starters, I am not a Yankee fan. Quite the contrary actually, I am a die hard Mets fan, who bleeds orange and blue.

In contrast, the Yankees have always been a hated rival because of their passionate fan base and decades of excellence.

In addition, I never had the opportunity to see Thurman Munson play. My generation does not have the same connection to Munson as my father’s generation did because we did not bear witness to his leadership and vast talents.

We remember Munson not for the life he lived, but for the way he died.

So I guess it’s fair to say that I’m not exactly the most qualified candidate to read a book about Thurman Munson. But boy, am I glad I did.

In Munson: Life and Death of a Yankee Captain, author Marty Appel documents the life of Thurman Munson, which was tragically cut short in 1979.

Using various sources and new information, Appel takes an in-depth look at Thurman Munson, both on and off the baseball diamond.

On the field, the book touches on all the points that made Thurman Munson a Yankee legend. Between winning becoming Yankee Captain, to winning the AL MVP in 1976, to winning the World Series in 1977 and 1978—Appel leaves no stone unturned in his quest to bring the reader into Munson, the baseball player.

However, it’s Appel’s description of Munson off the field that gives the readers a different look at Thurman Munson, the man.

Munson’s upbringing was especially difficult as he coped with an abusive father, who eventually left the family after Munson’s mother suffered a stroke. His traumatic upbringing shaped the way Munson treated his wife and children.

Despite his difficult childhood, Munson was a devoted family man, who decided to take up flying so that he could spend more time with his family back in Canton, Ohio.

But there is so much more to Munson than just his family life.

On one hand, Munson fought with George Steinbrenner about his contract, fought with Reggie Jackson through the media, gave Yankee fans the finger, and was unable to deal with the media towards the end of his career.

But on the other hand, Munson comes off as a typical, fun-loving average guy.

Munson adored the three stooges, ate Oreos for breakfast, was an aspiring businessman, and developed a serious interest in aviation.

In short, Munson was a modern day Renaissance man.

Munson was a painfully complex man, who lived a life that is very much worth reading about.

There are so many different facets to the man that I found the book difficult to put down as Appel beautifully outlines one of baseball’s most intriguing figures.

No matter how old you are or what team you root for, this book is a must read for any baseball fan.

I knew next to nothing about Munson coming into the biography, but by the end, I felt as though I knew Thurman Munson, both on and off the baseball diamond.

And for this baseball fan, what a treat that was.

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