As a kid growing up and playing baseball in the late 60’s and early 70’s, one of the best days of the year was when your Little League coach would hand out the uniforms for the upcoming year. In 1970, I gained Little League "status" (those of you who played back then, know what that means) and I had the first pick at choosing a number. Without hesitation, I selected #1 in honor of my favorite Yankee, Bobby Murcer. To this day, I remember the joy I had when I raced home and put that uniform on. It didn’t matter to me if the front of the uniform read "Salvadore Tool" and that it wasn’t pinstriped. To a 10-year old Yankee diehard, all that mattered was that I was wearing Bobby Murcer’s number, and I was thrilled to have it.
I hit my first homerun with that #1 on my back, and pitched my first no-hitter with it on too. During every Little League moment, both up and down, I always thought about Murcer. As I sit here and write this now, I think how I would never change the feeling of putting that #1 on for the video games, computers, and all the fancy gadgets that the kids of today seem to enjoy so much. Kids, you don’t know what you are missing.
From reading my first two paragraphs, I’m sure you can imagine how today’s news of Murcer’s malignant tumor hit me. Though I never met Bobby, I still feel an attachment to him, and that’s what made today’s awful news so hard to take. Bobby has been a member of the Yankee family for almost 40 years now, so to diehards like myself, he’s a member of OUR family too.
In a way, today is one of those days where we see the true beauty of baseball. In his baseball career, Murcer gave us so much joy. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, championships and the Yankees didn’t go together. For fans like myself, Bobby made those years enjoyable. He was an All-Star, and he, along with his buddy Thurman Munson, gave us Yankee fans much needed "ammunition" in the schoolyards, when we all would argue about our favorite teams. This is the reason why many of us are feeling so badly today. Though in reality he was a stranger, Bobby Murcer was a big part of our "Yankee lives". This is why we all hurt today. And this is why baseball is much bigger than just being a game.
During his playing career, we always let Murcer know how we felt with loud and wild applause. Tonight, we can let Bobby know how we still feel about him with a silent prayer.
My thoughts are prayers go out to Bobby Murcer, and in my heart I know, #1 can win this battle.