Tag Archives: Bobby Murcer

Rooting Against Tom Seaver

If You Rooted For The Yankees, Could You Root For Tom Seaver?

Tom Seaver pitching two-hitter in the seventh inning as he makes a bid for his 15th win of the year. August 7, 1975 photo: Paul DeMaria (Seaver wound up with a 3 hit complete game 7-0 shutout over the Expos)

Hall of Famer and baseball great Tom Seaver died Monday, August 31 at age 75 and a piece of my childhood died along with him. The accolades, recollections and recounting of stats will continue to flow for the next few weeks.

But not everyone who saw Seaver play rooted for this consummate pro. Especially kids like me.

Being a Yankees fan in the late 1960s and early 1970s was not fun. A New Yorker has to choose teams. A real New York fan can’t root for both the Rangers and Islanders or the Jets and the Giants. You certainly cannot be a fan of both the Yankees and the Mets. So you make choices.

As a New York baseball obsessed kid who collected trading cards, I examined both teams carefully. I chose to be a fan of the on-his-last-legs Mickey Mantle led Yankees. Bad choice. Mantle retired immediately upon my declaration of loyalty.

The 70s Yankees teams featured players like Jake Gibbs, Jerry Kenney, Mike Kekich, Steve Kline, and Horace Clarke.

Arguments on the summer camp bus about who was better, the Yankees or Mets ended with the words Tom Seaver.

Rooting for the Yankees meant rooting against Tom Seaver. Comparing Tom Seaver to any Yankee player was a futile exercise in partisanship.

“The Yankees have Mel Stottlemyre.”

“We’ve got Tom Seaver.” Continue reading

Scorecard. Who Needs A Scorecard?

The Death Of The Scorecard At The Ballgame

Scorecard vendor at the Polo Grounds 1949 - photo William C. Greene

Scorecard vendor at the Polo Grounds 1949 – photo William C. Greene

Recently I went to a baseball game at that imitation ballpark in the Bronx they call Yankee Stadium. After being gently frisked at the admission gates and going through the turnstiles, the thing that did not greet me was what you see above: a vendor selling scorecards.

You could buy a scorecard, but not for 10 cents as it was at the Polo Grounds in 1949. The archaic idea of a scorecard costs $10 at Yankee Stadium and is available at the souvenir shops spread throughout Yankee Mall Stadium. The scorecard is buried in some glossy souvenir publication which I did not purchase, nor did anyone else.

When I used to attend a lot of games in the 1970’s and 80’s buying a scorecard was a no-brainer. From anywhere from a reasonable 25 cents in the early 1970’s to two dollars in the late 80’s, filling out that scorecard and having a program was a nice memento of a game I went to. There is a certain enjoyment derived from scorekeeping and having a permanent record of a game you are attending.

I just dug this program of my closet from a game I went to on Thursday evening September 6, 1973. The Yankees came back in the bottom of the eighth inning after trailing 6-5 on a three run home run from Mike Hegan to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6. Bobby Murcer and Roy White also homered for the Yanks. The time of the game was 2:22.

In my childish way I merely recorded outs as fly outs, ground outs or line outs without denoting the fielders who made the play. As you can see my scorekeeping leaves a lot to be desired, but for a little kid I think I did a pretty good job. Eventually I learned to score correctly.

For 30 cents they packed a lot into 28 pages. Continue reading

Remembering Bobby Murcer And A Good Day At The Plate

Bobby Murcer: 40 Years Ago Today, April 11, 1973

Baseball Murcer vs Indians 4 11 73

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.

Mickey Mantle After Retirement

3 Photographs of Yankees First Base Coach – Mickey Mantle





And Bobby Murcer gets playfully pushed away after reaching first base

Mickey Mantle announced his retirement March 1, 1969. In 1970, Mickey Mantle was an announcer on the NBC Game of the Week, but left in late August and  joined Yankee manager Ralph Houk’s coaching staff for the remainder of the season.

Mantle’s first game coaching was on August 30 against the Minnesota Twins. Bobby Murcer walked to lead off the fourth inning. When Murcer came over to talk with Mantle, who would coach first base only for the middle three innings, Mantle kiddingly pushed Murcer back to first base. The Twins first baseman is Rich Reese. The Yankees won this game 5-2. Continue reading