I was only 14 years old when Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. He was the captain of the Yankees and a hero on two of their championship teams.
Of course I loved him and I distinctly recall how I found out:
Mom pulled up at a little league baseball game I was watching (Jim was playing). She rolled down her window and called me over to the car. She had come from home just to tell me because she knew I'd be upset and she didn't want someone else to say it to me.
As it was there were other guys there...friends of mine...so I couldn't CRY in front of them! I do remember that my head hurt from trying NOT to cry!
I didn't want anyone to call me a sissy.
Cut to Sunday morning:
I broke the news to my boys that Jose Fernandez had been killed in a boating accident. Fernandez was wildly respected around here for his ability to throw a ball. We all believed he was one of the best.
Then last night, Dee Gordon of the Marlins hit his first homer of the year. His first one! He hit it into the second deck, rounded the bases, sobbing, and hit the dugout and cried with every single one of his teammates.
No one called him a sissy.
Sam watched the highlight "at least 10 times" he said.
On Tuesday morning Jake sent me a text that showed what Gordon had said about never having hit a ball that far...even in batting practice. He implored his teammates to believe in God.
We talked about the accident.
(I'm a safety guy).
I used the moment to caution them about not taking chances...even when you're having a good time.
It's a horrible tragedy.
The Marlins had 16 men reach base on Monday night.
Fernandez wore #16.
Gordon hit his first homerun.
Bourne, a slow-footed big man, hit his first career triple.
"We had some help out there," Gordon said.
Maybe they did.
When Munson died the Yankees came back from a few runs down in the 9th to beat the Orioles.
Bobby Murcer drove in all 5 runs that night...
...right after he eulogized Munson.
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