Appel: Thurman Munson’s rookie season

From SABR member Marty Appel at The National Pastime Museum on December 5, 2017:

The story of Thurman Munson’s rookie season with the New York Yankees—1970—is significant because not only did it lead to his being the first catcher in American League history to win the Rookie of the Year Award (and only Johnny Bench had done it in the National League), but because of what was to come with his career.

Indeed, two years later Boston catcher Carlton Fisk would win the award, and the Munson-Fisk rivalry—Yankees–Red Sox—took form and continues today. Arguably, before those two came along, the “rivalry” was in name only, and plenty of good seats were available on game days for most of their matchups over the years, save for a few in the Ted Williams–Joe DiMaggio years. For a rivalry to take hold, both teams need to be good. The Red Sox have generally been “good” since their Impossible Dream season of 1967, and the Yankees “got good” with Munson’s arrival. By 1972, when Fisk came along, the two were off to the races (pennant races), and the rivalry remains intense to this day.

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Originally published: December 6, 2017. Last Updated: December 6, 2017.