Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Thurman Munson (June 7, 1947 - August 2, 1979) was a Major League Baseball player from 1969 to 1979. Munson played his entire career as catcher with the New York Yankees having been drafted by the team with the fourth pick in the first round in the 1968 amateur draft. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1970 for batting .302 with 7 home runs and 57 RBIs, the American League MVP in 1976 for batting .302 with 17 home runs and 105 RBIs. In 1971 he made one error behind the plate and went on to win Gold Gloves for 1973-74-75. A seven-time all-star, Munson smashed 113 home runs, 701 RBIs and had a career batting average of .292 over his ten-year career. He was also the first captain named by the Yankees since Lou Gehrig.
On August 2, 1979 Munson died in a plane crash. He was practicing takeoffs and landings in his new twin engine Cessna Citation jet at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport. Something went wrong, causing the jet to clip a tree and fall short of the runway on a landing attempt. The plane then burst into flames, killing Munson, who was trapped inside, and injuring two other companions. His sudden death stunned the nation and especially sorrowed the baseball community. Munson's wife, Diana, and three children survived him. The entire Yankee team attended his funeral in Canton, Ohio. Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, who were Munson's best friends as well as teammates, gave moving eulogies. That night the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 in New York with Bobby Murcer driving in all 5 runs.
The Yankees have retired his No. 15 uniform and have placed a memorial plaque on the centerfield wall at Yankee Stadium. To this day, despite a packed clubhouse, his locker remains empty as a subtle tribute to such a great player. His number 15 is displayed on the center field wall at Munson Stadium . Munson is buried at Sunset Hills Burial Park in Canton, Ohio.
He was a graduate of Canton Lehman High School and Kent State University.
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