Jaffe: Thurman Munson’s case for Cooperstown

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on August 2, 2018:

This isn’t a round-numbered anniversary — next year will be 40 years — but every August 2, my thoughts invariably turn to Thurman Munson, particularly as a baseball-minded New York resident. Munson’s 1979 death, via the crash of a plane he was flying, remains a pivotal moment of my own childhood for the confrontation it forced with the mortality of the men playing the game. It robbed the game of an iconic player, one whose career I believe is worthy of a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

On Wednesday, the New York Times‘ David Waldstein published an account of Munson’s final moments and the events that led up to them, based upon depositions from two lawsuits that were recently uncovered by a Long Island lawyer named Allan Blutstein. Directed at Cessna (the airplane manufacturer) and FlightSafety International (the school where Munson learned to fly), the lawsuits were separately filed by the Yankees and the other by Munson’s widow, Diana.


You don’t need the blow-by-blow of his demise to appreciate Munson’s career, however. He packed a tremendous amount into his 11 major league seasons: seven All-Star appearances (six straight from 1973-1978), three Gold Gloves, an AL MVP award (with support in six other seasons), an AL Rookie of the Year award, and a central role on a team that won three straight pennants (1976-1978) and two championships. He excelled on both sides of the ball; five times he hit for at least a .300 batting average with a wRC+ of at least 120 (his career mark was 116) and twice he led the league in caught stealing percentage, throwing out more than half the baserunners who tried to steal against him.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/thurman-munsons-case-for-cooperstown/

Originally published: August 3, 2018. Last Updated: August 3, 2018.