Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bobby Murcer

from lohud yankees
Bobby Murcer, a Yankee from 1965-74 and 1979-83, passed away this afternoon.

This statement from the Yankees:

It is with deep sadness that the New York Yankees announce the passing of former player, executive and broadcaster Bobby Murcer due to complications from brain cancer. He passed away Saturday afternoon surrounded by family at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City. He was 62 years old.

“Bobby Murcer was a born Yankee, a great guy, very well-liked and a true friend of mine,” Yankees Chairperson George M. Steinbrenner said. “I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Kay, their children and grandchildren. I will really miss the guy.”

A family service will be held in the next several days in Oklahoma City. An additional celebration of his life will be held at a date to be determined. He is survived by his wife Kay, his children, Tori and Todd, and his grandchildren.

An All-Star player, Murcer became known to another generation of fans as an announcer. He also was very close with the players on the team and manager Joe Girardi, who broke down in tears when he heard the news.

More to come on this post as reaction comes in from around baseball.

UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: This statement from John Filippelli, president, production and programming, the YES Network:

The Yankees have lost an icon, and we at YES have lost a great friend and colleague. Bobby was the ultimate pro, be it on the field or behind the microphone. He will be missed greatly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Kay and his family.

UPDATE, 6:49 p.m.: This statement from commissioner Bud Selig:

“All of Major League Baseball is saddened today by the passing of Bobby Murcer, particularly on the eve of this historic All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, a place he called home for so many years. Bobby was a gentleman, a great ambassador for baseball, and a true leader both on and off the field. He was a man of great heart and compassion.”

UPDATE, 7:31 p.m.: Here are statements from Bobby’s co-workers at YES:

Michael Kay: “Bobby was one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met. He handled his battle with a grace and class that was hard to fathom. For me personally, it’s an incredible loss. He was my idol growing up. I was lucky to work with him as a broadcaster, and it showed me that I had great taste as a kid. He was everything that you’d want in someone that you once looked up to. He lived up to every ideal that a little boy set for him. I’m going to miss him a lot. I miss him a lot already.”

Ken Singleton: “I will cherish all the wonderful times I had with Bobby in the booth. He was a real treasure, and it was amazing to witness the special relationship Bobby had with New York and with Yankees fans. I will miss him greatly. He was one of a kind.”

Kimberly Jones: “I will never forget how kind Bobby was or how much he cherished every day. Back in March 2005, in one of my first interviews with Joe Torre, he first declined to answer a harmless question then asked me to hold his gum. I extended my notebook and Joe placed the wad on the top page. I had no idea what to think. Two seconds later, Bobby was howling in laughter, as was Joe. It was through a practical joke that Bobby figured he would help the newcomer break the ice. And it was something Bobby and I laughed about many, many times in the years to come. He was always smiling, always upbeat and his spirit was undeniable. Everyone loved Bobby and we will miss him dearly.”

Bob Lorenz: “My greatest impression of Bobby is not as a player or broadcaster, but as a human being. He was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, and that’s not a word we hear enough these days. He always treated people warmly and his positive, upbeat personality just made people he came in contact with feel better instantly. His presence had that kind of impact. I know when he walked into the studio at YES, there was a different kind of energy. We all knew we were in for a great day.

“After Bobby was diagnosed in December 2006, I could not believe how positive he remained and how he immediately accepted not only his condition, but the challenge of overcoming it. And he handled it with such grace and, no surprise, in his usual positive manner. And I’ve thought ever since, if Bobby can maintain that kind of positive attitude in the face of such adversity, we all should learn from that. And if we don’t, then we’re not paying attention to the lessons of a great man.

“Bobby’s loss as a broadcaster is immeasureable. As a lifelong Yankee, the stories and history just flowed out of him and captivated Yankees fans. His loss as a friend is even greater. His positive attitude rubbed off on you and made you a better, happier person every time he was around.”

David Cone: “He was so great in the clubhouse, just a pleasure to have in the clubhouse. The players really loved having him around. Old-Timers Day was always a special day for Bobby. When the Yankees would come to Kansas City when I was growing up there, he was always one of the guys I was trying to get an autograph from. He was a really good player, a really solid left-handed hitter.”

UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: More statements via the Yankees:

Joe Girardi: “He was a great Yankee, but more importantly, he was a great friend to all of us. He always put others first, he cared about the game, and he cared whether we won or lost every day. He wore his emotions on his sleeve whether he was in the booth or as a player, and he played the game the right way. Bobby was the type of man that, I believe, got what life was about—trying to make life better for people around him. As a kid, I used to watch Bobby Murcer, and he was one of my heroes.”

Reggie Jackson: “If there’s a Hall of Fame for people, he’s in it. He enjoyed life, his family and people. He was such a good person, and he was appreciative of the people who cared so much for him.”

Goose Gossage: “He was an awesome person. His values and the way he lived his life were tremendous. He was a gentleman, a class act and friendly to everyone. He was the model of how we should all be.”

Don Mattingly: “Bobby is so special to me. I feel like he and I are connected. He’s the one that stepped down so graciously to give me my opportunity with the club. Anytime I think of the Yankees, and it’s often, I think of Bobby. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to know Bobby, and he’s a special person. He’s been a great joy in my life.”

Joe Torre: “It’s a great loss to the baseball world and to those who had the great pleasure of knowing Bobby the person. He was a special human being with great spirit, and I know that helped him during this time. My deepest sympathies go out to Kay and the entire Murcer family.”

Mel Stottlemyre: “The loss of Bobby is a major blow to those of us who played alongside him and considered him a friend. He was a special person, and I’ll always treasure the time I spent with him. He and (wife) Kay were classy people, and our families have bonded throughout the years.”

Bob Watson: “For me, Bobby was the ultimate Yankee, a great player and a great friend. He was my locker neighbor for three years and we talked about anything and everything. The Yankees family is going to miss him.”

Lou Piniella: “Bobby Murcer was a tremendously special person. He was a wonderful family man, a supportive teammate and a great friend. Anita and I send our heartfelt wishes to Kay and the entire Murcer family.”

Don Zimmer: “Bobby was a Yankee in every sense, a true Yankee. A class act. He was the type of person that was loved by everybody. He battled this thing and never gave up. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”


Joe Girardi was literally in tears after he got the news. Many of the older Yankees who knew Bobby had blank expressions. Everybody knew Murcer’s health had taken a turn but his death was hard to take because he was so genuinely liked.

Head trainer Gene Monahan, who has been with the team for 46 seasons, retold the great story about Murcer.

Following the death of Thurman Munson in 1979, Murcer delivered a moving eulogy at the funeral in Canton, Ohio. He returned with his teammates to New York and drove in five runs to defeat the Baltimore Orioles that night.

“To this day I don’t know how he got through it the way he did.” Monahan said. “To come back home and win that ball game for us … there’s no words for that.”

Derek Jeter said it well. “He was one of the most positive people you’d ever meet. You never heard anyone say something bad about him. He was somebody everybody liked,” the captain said.

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