en years ago this week we lost our first superstar hero of the post Mickey Mantle era.
His name was Bobby Murcer.
Even though he wasn’t as big as Mantle physically, he took on the responsibility of being that Yankee. New York has always had a hero starting with Babe Ruth and going through Lou Gehrig Joe Dimaggio Berra and going into the Mantle era. When Mantle retired there wasn’t a choice, it was a responsibility for Murcer to instantly become a superstar and ease the pain of kids like me who were suffering from the fact that Mantle was no longer there.
Bobby Murcer took the role with such a very cool flair that we all wanted to be Murcer.
When we played pickup games in the street we would actually get into fist fights because in those games each player got to pick the player they would imagine they were as they played the game. We took it very serious and if we couldn’t wear Bobby’s number one then the fight was on.
Me and my friends would be at a Yankee game and the big thing was that when Bobby would run out to centerfield, the organist Eddie Layton would play the Beatle song Get back and Bobby would always run to the beat of the song. The big saying in 1969 was ‘that dude is bad’ which meant that he was great. So to all of my buddies in the Bronx and Brooklyn Bobby Murcer was a very bad dude.
I will never forget that me and my pals snuck into the Stadium on a hot Friday night and we were very very upset with Yankee Manager Ralph Houk because he didn’t start Murcer. The Yanks were playing the White Sox. We were losing 2 – 0
Outfielder Bill Robinson was due up. There were runners on first and second so Houk decided to bring in Bobby as a pinch hitter versus the right handed pitcher. On the first pitch Bobby hit a line drive over the right field fence and the Yankees won 3 – 2.
After that we started calling Bobby, the great Bobby Murcer. When we left the stadium we went by the players parking lot to see Bobby walk out to his car. I didn’t care about asking players for autographs, I just loved to see Murcer walk to his car and possibly shake his hand. I thought that was cool. The one thing I loved about Murcer was if he shook your hand he always looked you in the eyes and smiled.
Years later when my dream of being a part of the Yankees came true and I got to know the great Bobby Murcer as a friend, I can honestly say that I really loved him. He was all that and more. As we would say in the streets, he was one bad dude.
I still miss you dearly Bobby Murcer