Bobby Murcer: 40 Years Ago Today, April 11, 1973
Bobby Murcer vs. Cleveland Indians April 11, 1973
On this date, Wednesday, April 11, 1973, the New York Yankees were at home against the Cleveland Indians and playing their fifth game of the year. They had lost their first four.
Bobby Murcer batting clean-up went 3 for 4 with a double and two singles and scored two runs in a Yankee 4-0 victory.
It is sometimes hard to believe that decades have passed on events that seem like they occurred only a few years ago.
Growing up in the Bronx, my two favorite Yankees were Ron Blomberg and Bobby Murcer. It was a little easier to root for Murcer because he was in the line-up a lot more than the oft-injured Blomberg.
Murcer was probably the best position player on those late 1960’s, early 1970’s Yankee teams which were generally not very good. Until Thurman Munson, Lou Pinella, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles and others joined the Yankees, the team had few bright spots.
Because of their shared Oklahoma heritage and other vague similarities, some fans were expecting (unfairly) for Murcer to be the next incarnation of Mickey Mantle and carry the team to the playoffs.
No player should have that burden placed upon him. Murcer had solid season after solid season, but he knew that he was never going to be the next Mickey Mantle.
Bobby Murcer was traded in a shocking blockbuster deal after the 1974 season and missed out on being a member of the Yankee world championship teams of 1977 and 1978. He returned to the Yankees in 1979 and did get into a World Series in a losing effort against the Dodgers in 1981. Bobby Murcer retired after 1983 and became a Yankee TV and radio announcer. Beloved by many fans and players in baseball, Murcer contracted a brain tumor and died of cancer at the age of 62 in 2008.
Some interesting notes concerning this April 11 game –
It was a day game. Why play night games in New York in early April? So the temperature can drop an additional 25 degrees and fans and players can freeze? MLB and the teams didn’t try and maximize attendance figures by playing in conditions not conducive to baseball (see current November World Series as an example).
The attendance was 5,059. (Which is the rationale that now most weekday games are scheduled as night games.)
The game was completed in two hours and 29 minutes.
Mel Stottlemyre pitched a complete game two hit shutout, striking out six but walking eight.
Indians starter Gaylord Perry also went the distance. Perry ended up with 19 wins and 19 losses in 1973 and pitched 29 complete games. That is four more complete games than the top five (Verlander, Dickey, Hernandez, Peavy and Harrison) complete game leaders combined for in 2012.
All three of Bobby Murcer’s hits were to left field. Murcer generally could not stand hitting against Gaylord Perry and constantly complained publicly that Perry was cheating by loading-up the ball. For his career Murcer batted .232 against Perry.