Boss Steinbrenner's 25-Year Reign over the New York Yankees
by Maury Allen
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Clubhouse man Pete Sheehy locked the clubhouse tight that night, worried more than ever about theft.
Sheehy, on orders from Steinbrenner, had cleaned out Munson's locker. He left only a pinstriped shirt slung over a hanger, the NY facing out, a pair of pinstriped baseball pants hanging loosely on a hook, a Yankee cap on the top shelf, and across from the shirt, his catcher's mask on another hook. Atop the locker was a metal plate bearing simply the number 15.
There it remains, twenty years later, as a new generation of Yankee heroes, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, and Scott Brosius walk past the locker through the clubhouse to the trainer's room for treatment and privacy from the press.
Munson's figure still draws huge applause when it appears on the Yankee Stadium electronic scoreboard, and his name is always mentioned on Old Timer's Day. Steinbrenner gave Thurman's son, Michael, a chance at a baseball career by signing the youngster, never considered a pro prospect, and he donates heavily to a dinner in Manhattan in Thurman's honor each winter to benefit ailing children.
The Baseball Hall of Fame ballots for Munson decreased each year after his death, and his chances for enshrinement in the game's Valhalla seem remote.
He hit .292 in eleven big-league seasons, was a fine catcher, had a strong arm, could run exceptionally well, and was a very aggressive player. His legs were tiring in 1979 and his production was in serious decline. No matter how insulted he was by Sparky Anderson's remarks after the 1976 World Series, Anderson was right. Thurman Munson was no Johnny Bench.
I am among the more than 570 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who cast ballots in the annual Hall of Fame vote. I have never voted for Thurman Munson. Gotcha.
From All Roads Lead to October by Maury Allen.
Copyright © 2000 by Maury Allen. Reprinted with permission.