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Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain [Kindle Edition]

Marty Appel
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next … Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.”
—Honorary plaque to Munson in Yankee Stadium

Thurman Munson is remembered by fans as the fiercely competitive, tough, and—most of all—inspiring Yankee captain and champion from the wild Bronx Zoo years. He is also remembered for his tragic death, at age thirty-two, when the private plane he was piloting crashed in Canton, Ohio, on August 2, 1979.

Munson is the intimate biography of a complex and larger-than-life legend. Written by former Yankees public relations director Marty Appel, who worked closely with Thurman throughout his career, Munson captures the little-known details of the young man from Canton and his meteoric rise to stardom in baseball’s most storied franchise. Appel examines the tumultuous childhood that led Thurman to work feverishly to escape Canton—and also the marriage and cultural roots that continually drew him back.

Appel also opens a fascinating door on the famed Yankees of the 1970s, recounting moments and stories that have never been told before. From the clubhouse and the dugout to the front office and the owner’s box, this thoughtful baseball biography delves into the affectionately gruff captain’s relationships with friends, fans, and teammates such as Lou Piniella, Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles, and Reggie Jackson, as well as his colorful dealings with manager Billy Martin and his surprisingly close bond with owner George Steinbrenner. Munson paints a revealing portrait of a private Yankee superstar, as well as a nostalgic and revelatory look at the culture—and amazing highs and lows—of the 1970s New York Yankees teams. More than a biography, Munson is the definitive account of a champion who has not been forgotten and of the era he helped define—written with the intimate detail available only to a true insider.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, July 2009: For Yankee fans, catcher Thurman Munson remains a sentimental standout among the storied lineup of George Steinbrenner’s late '70s Bronx Zoo dynasty of Yankee baseball, when the team made it to three consecutive World Series, winning in '77 and '78. Former Yankee Public Relations Director Marty Appel was the ghostwriter on Munson's autobiography, and now, three decades later, returns to his legendary subject in the biography, Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain.

As a Yankee insider, Appel keeps Munson, "the heart and soul of a world championship team," in a mostly positive light, though he does reveal more sensational elements of Munson's troubled childhood in Canton, Ohio, where his emotionally abusive father criticized him right up to the end of his short life, even chewing out the casket at Munson's funeral. Appel documents Munson's career as a scholarship athlete at Kent State, his time in the Cape Cod league, and his quick ascension to the major leagues and the Yankees, where he won Rookie of the Year in 1970 and was eventually made team captain, the first player to hold the title since Lou Gehrig. His blue-collar work ethic and gruff but lovable demeanor made him an instant fan favorite (a shot of him making a tag at home plate was the first action photo used in a Topps baseball card). And during that Bronx Zoo era, gloriously depicted in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning, it was the down-to-earth Munson who balanced out (and butted heads with) his flashy teammate Reggie Jackson. After Jackson made his infamous "I'm the straw that stirs the drink" comments in a Sport magazine interview, Munson was asked if Jackson was quoted out of context. Munson's reply: "For three pages?"

Munson was only 32 when he was killed after the plane he was piloting crashed in Canton, Ohio, on August 2, 1979. Despite so many bitter memories of Ohio, it's where he ended up marrying and starting a family, and part of the reason he learned how to fly was to be able to increase visits to his family from New York. Even though he was a relatively inexperienced pilot, he quickly worked his way up from a two-piston engine to a jet. And pilot error was eventually cited as the reason for the crash, which occurred while practicing touch-and-go-landings. At the home-opener the day after his death, when No. 15 was retired, there was a ten-minute standing ovation in memory of the Yankee catcher. Munson was never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Marty Appel's biography remains a fitting tribute. --Brad Thomas Parsons



Amazon Exclusive: Marty Appel on Why Munson Matters


Sports biographies can get a little nasty these days. Have a quick look at the covers of new books this year--a year in which I’m thrilled to see the publication of Munson, my new biography of Thurman Munson, by the way--and you see the story. On the one hand, you see a classic shot of Thurman, the old-school catcher and Captain of the Bronx Zoo... And on the other, well, you get players linked to steroids.

There is the feeling, looking at that photo of Munson, that he represented something genuine and beautiful about baseball, and maybe something bigger--a respect for the profession, a pride in performance. Oh, how he played the game!

As Munson’s co-author on his autobiography more than 30 years ago, I have marveled at the enduring loyalty of his fans, and at the palpable emotion his image on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard still produces throughout the stands. The autobiography was an honor to write, but in my heart, I always felt there was much more to the story. Now, with the 30th anniversary of Thurman’s tragic death, the time was right to tell the whole story. He would have been okay with that, because I think he would be proud of his accomplishments off the field, and proud that they could be used as an example for others.

It’s a wonderful story. And, of course, a tragic one, too. It was Thurman’s devotion to his family that got him into aviation, all the better to get home and spend more time with his wife and kids. And ultimately, he just took on too much airplane for his fledgling abilities.

It’s my hope that Munson gives fans a definitive and intimate look at the man in full. I conducted about 150 interviews with his friends, teammates, and associates to examine his childhood, his illustrious career, and of course, the tragic crash that took his life--and the aftermath that made him a Yankee legend for the ages.

I know it’s unusual for the same author to revisit a subject 30 years apart, but when offered the opportunity to do this, I jumped at it. For Yankee fans, and all baseball fans, this is a look at the captain of those "Bronx Zoo," "Bronx Is Burning" teams and how he led by example. Munson is a story of redemption, of how one man turned his life around and became a role model not only for his gutsy play behind the plate, but for his life off the field.

Thurman wasn’t perfect. He was as flawed as we all are in some ways. But in the end, I think the reader will see him for what he was--a Yankee hero, with a life worth admiring. --Marty Appel

(Photo © Raquel Lauren)




From Publishers Weekly

Appel co-wrote New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson's autobiography 30 years ago, and his stated goal here is to tell the story that didn't get told then. The revelations, however, are few. We learn, for example, that Munson grew up in Canton, Ohio, with a father whose coldness and resentment bordered on emotional abuse. (On the day Munson signed with the Yankees, his father openly criticized his playing skills to team executives; years later, he came to his son's funeral and taunted the closed casket.) There's also, naturally, much more information about the 1979 plane crash that ended Munson's life, including the transcript of a lengthy interview with one of the survivors; again, however, the conclusion that Munson was a relatively inexperienced pilot who made fatal errors in judgment is not a new one. Otherwise, Appel covers familiar territory, casting Munson as a journeyman ballplayer who inspired his teammates with his tenacious work ethic, but didn't get along with the press and couldn't stand Reggie Jackson or George Steinbrenner. Excerpts from several other baseball memoirs and transcripts from archival interviews with Munson extend the story, but do little to expand upon it. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 930 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0767927559
  • Publisher: Anchor (July 7, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002FQOI1Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,538 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
When I was a youngster, I was a huge fan of Thurman Munson.

To this day, if I close my eyes, I can quickly remember the feeling of sitting in Yankee Stadium, as a 13-year old, with my father, watching the Yankees play with Munson at bat and runners on base.

During these moments, my heart would race - where it felt like it was about to jump out of my chest (because it was beating so hard and fast). Why? Because I wanted Thurman to come through...as he was "my guy."

And, more times than not, Munson did the job.

It's been so many years, but, in this memory, I can still see Munson slapping a line drive into right field, as if he was picking the ball out of opposing catcher's mitt with his bat, waiting until the last minute to go the other way with the pitch, with Yankees runners rounding third and coming home to score...man, talk about pure exhilaration...that was it.

Being such a Munson fan, I was (and still am) very interested in learning more about him. And, for the last three decades or so, I've been waiting for the ultimate book covering the entire story of Thurman Munson.

Now, thanks to Marty Appel, with his new book "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain," we have what I have been waiting for...all these years. With this book Appel provides us with the complete account of Thurman Munson's life and untimely passing...with no holds barred.

With this work, we get to see the many facets of Munson's life: Thurman as a ball player, a friend, the family man and a real estate entrepreneur. And, we get to see the good and the bad sides of the man.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is author Marty Appel's second Thurman Munson biography. The first biography was written in 1977 two years before Munson's tragic death... and Munson's verbal response to the original proposal was: "Who writes a biography when you're twenty-nine-years-old?" After Munson was laid to rest... his wonderful wife Diane thanked Marty for what turned out to be such a special keepsake for the family for years to come. As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the August 2, 1979 crash of Thurman's personal jet that he himself was piloting... the author felt it was time to unseal the mysterious pieces to the puzzle that was Munson... that wasn't covered in the first biography. There were boundaries in the original biography that the author wasn't allowed to cross or investigate. Most baseball fans when they thought of Munson as a person... saw a scruffy... stocky... moody... walrus mustachioed... distant personality... who hated and mostly ignored the media. They also saw a guy that represented the everyday hardworking average American Joe. Not your handsome... strapping... Mickey Mantle type image. And as a player... any baseball fan that knew which end of a baseball bat was up... saw... a player that would never quit... a player that was the leader on the field... one of the best clutch hitters of his era... one of the best fielding catchers in the big leagues until injuries starting tearing him down. Nowadays these multi-million-dollar players sit out a game with a hang nail. All the Yankee players knew that if Thurman could hobble... he would play... so they knew they couldn't wimp out. When Munson heard a teammate complain about an injury he would say... "SO, RETIRE!" That's what defines a leader... and because of those qualities... Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeping it Real in the Bronx Zoo June 4, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Much has been written about the turbulent period of New York Yankees baseball that many have referred to as the Reggie Jackson Era. While Jackson was the self-proclaimed "straw that stirs the Yankees drink", Thurman Munson may well have been the cocktail napkin that kept the drink from making a mess on that nice coffee table. He was the much needed quiet, stablizing force on the field and in the clubhouse; he didn't like disruption. He didn't like Jackson or George Steinbrenner, for that matter. Thurman Munson just wanted to play ball; forget the soap opera that was Yankees baseball. Just play the game the way it was meant to be played - hard.

It's been over thirty years since Thurman Munson died in that plane crash, and not much has been written about him that reveals very much about his personality, probably since he made it a point to speak rarely, while carrying a steady stick. Nothing much stands out about his demeanor that would cause much of a stir; especially three decades after his passing. Marty Appel provides a thorough, workman-like perspective on this blue collar Yankees captain.

In the end, Munson played the game hard; the way it was meant to be played. While others grabbed the headlines, he grabbed his gear and his bat, and went about his business of keeping his team on top of their game. Whatever he did worked quite well for over a decade. That's not a bad legacy for such a quiet man.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Munson, the life and death of a yankee captain September 11, 2009
Format:Hardcover
As a NY Yankee fan for many years, and being that Thurman Munson was my favorite player I was very interested in this book. The book was an easy read and an enjoyable journey through Thurman's life, both personal and professional. It showed great insight by his fellow teammates and friends and family on his life. It is a book that can be enjoyed by any baseball fan
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A FAN WITH LIKE THIS BOOK
IF A YANKEE FAN YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK. IF WILL ENJOY THE YANKEE PAST AND THE BACKGROUND ON MUNSON.
Published 3 months ago by william sanchez
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I bought this because i loved Thurman Munson from watching the videos of him and from my family raving about the "captain" This was a book i could not put down and i hate... Read more
Published 4 months ago by anthony d'amico
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a great read about a very complicated man that was also a great baseball player and leader. Too bad he had such an evil father. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Marilyn Hawley
4.0 out of 5 stars Munson's life.
An interesting story about the life and death of a Yankee Legend. I remember the day he died. i could not believe it. The book was well written and engaging.
Published 9 months ago by Andrew Schlossberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this is you love Thurm!
Enjoyed reading this about one of my childhood heros. Wore his number and tried to play tough just like Thurm...READ THIS!
Published 11 months ago by mistresspdx
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story
I Loved the book. Brought back a lot of memories of the Captain and his sometimes troubled life in baseball
Published 11 months ago by Robert Bernard
5.0 out of 5 stars One-Fiver deserves 5
This book was great but I am certainly biased. Not only am I a huge Yankee fan and Munson has a specially place in my heart. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Howard D. Levy
5.0 out of 5 stars A llife changer
Being named a Yankees Captain is one of the greatest honors in all of professional sports, with Baseball Almanac listing 13 in the last 110 years, and Thurman Munson was one of the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Kellie Yakes
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Baseball Biography
This book is a true baseball biography. It gives us an inside look at the famous yankee catcher: Thurman Munson. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Brooklyn Joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain
Having read Thurmans bio in 1978, it was a bit lacking and somewhat boring. I enjoyed this book because even though Thurman was my favorite Yankee back then, I didn't know a lot of... Read more
Published 19 months ago by words91603
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