New York, NY—New York Yankees icon Thurman Munson tragically died in an air crash on August 2 1979, at the age of 32. The sixth Yankee captain has not been forgotten by his family or by Yankee rooters.
Munson’s name is also in the minds of thousands who may not have ever seen him play for the Yankees, the children and adults in New York City who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The lives of these people have been improved by the more than 13 millions of dollars raised at the annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, whose proceeds have been donated to the AHRC New York City Foundation, which provides funds that serve the needs of more than 15,000 individuals.
On Tuesday night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, the latest contingent of superior athletes and humanitarians were honored with the 35th Annual Thurman Munson Awards. As has happened in each of the 35 annual award ceremonies, members of the Yankees were among the honorees, and Munson’s widow, Diana, was present to represent the Yankee legend. Although, she, like her late husband, is a native and resident of Ohio, she remarked of her yearly visits to the dinners that honor her husband’s memory, “It’s like coming home. There’s so much love.” Two Yankees heroes, Bernie Williams, the recipient of the Legend Award, and Dellin Betances, were among the 2015 Munson honorees.
Williams was not yet 11 months old when Munson first played with the Yankees, yet the 16 year Yankee veteran might have been the most interesting to hear speak of Munson. Unfortunately, Williams could not get a flight from Puerto Rico to attend the dinner. His award was accepted by former Yankee third sacker Charlie Hayes. The latter is most remembered by Yankee rooter for catching the last out of the 1996 World Series.
Mookie Wilson, a hero of the Mets World Championship of 1986, also was unable to attend the dinner as he was unable to catch a flight from Columbia, South Carolina. His award was accepted by former Mets pitcher John Franco.
Betances was born nine years after Munson’s death, yet he commented regarding to receive the Munson award, “I’m honored and thrilled just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Thurman Munson.”
Last year’s rookie sensation was asked numerous questions regarding his opinion of the 2015 season. Spring Training-“I’m definitely excited for Spring Training, to get back to work and to see what those guys are up to.” David Robertson-“I was definitely surprised to see David Robertson sign elsewhere.” Alex Rodriguez-I’m looking forward to playing with A-Rod again. I’ll welcome him back with open arms. For me, it’s not an issue, but I can only speak for myself.” Team without Derek Jeter-It definitely will be different without Jeter. We have a lot of veteran guys. Brian McCann can step up. He knows all the pitchers.” His role during 2015 season-“The 7th or 8th may be harder, nut in the 9th you can put pressure on yourself. For me I’ll try to treat it the same way. [Each day] no matter what happens, good or bad, you have to be ready [for the next game].” Next year-“We want to win. There’s no better feeling.”
The Munson Awards are not solely given to baseball players, but to outstanding athletes on the field who exhibit humanitarian attitudes off the field. NFL punter Steve Weatherford, who played for the Jets, 2009-11, and for the Giants since then, spoke at length and with emotion of his struggles with ADHD and OCD. He considers receiving this award an event above his Super Bowl victory in 2012. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, ice dancing Gold Medalists for the US in 2012 also received Munson Awards.