I shouldn't have been surprised at the news today that former Yankee OF
(and current announcer) Bobby Murcer, 62, had passed away. The cause
was no surprise, complications from his well-publicized brain cancer.
Who was Bobby Murcer to Yankee fans? Well ...
Like the great man he was positioned to "replace" in the Yankee lineup
-- Mickey Mantle -- Murcer came up to the Bronx as a shortstop and
moved to center field.
He made five consecutive All-Star teams, from 1971-75, the last of those with the Giants after being half of baseball's first (1974) "All-$100,000 Player" trade, for a more talented, though more volatile, Bobby -- Bonds. (He later was traded to the Cubs for still another All-Star, Bill Madlock.)
He won a Gold Glove and, early in his career, took turns leading the AL in both OPS and Runs Scored. He made it into just one World Series, toward the end of his career in 1981, in which the Yankees fell to the Dodgers. So Murcer, like Don Mattingly after him, holds the "distinction" of being one of the best-known historical Yankees to not win a ring with the team.
His list of "Most Similar" players is one composed of familiar names, All-Star outfielders all -- Dusty Baker, George Hendrick, Gary Matthews, Chet Lemon, Ken Singleton, Andy Pafko, and another legendary New York Bobby -- Thomson.
As fine a player as he was for 17 years -- including that four-year non-Yankee blip with the Giants and Cubs -- Murcer will always be remembered as a True Yankee. He returned to the Bronx in '79 just in time to be on hand to serve as a eulogist at the funeral of his friend and teammate, Thurman Munson.
Murcer proceeded to play out the last four-plus years of his career in New York, then spend more than two decades as a Yankee announcer. There are no statistical measures to compare "True Yankees," but the list of those who have measured up to Murcer is sparing and short. Derek Jeter. Mattingly. Munson. Roy White.
Rest in peace, Bobby. And say hi to Mickey and Thurm for us.