Thurman Lee Munson (June 7, 1947 – August 2, 1979) was an American Major League Baseball catcher. He played his entire 11-year professional baseball career for the New York Yankees (1969–1979). A perennial All-Star, Munson is the only Yankee to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.
Born in Akron, Ohio, Munson was selected as the fourth pick of the 1968 Major League Baseball Draft. Munson hit over .300 in his two seasons in the Minor Leagues, establishing himself as a top prospect. He became the New York Yankees' starting catcher late in the 1969 season. Munson played his first complete season in 1970, and was voted A.L. Rookie of the Year after hitting .302.
Considered the "heart and soul" of the Yankees, Munson was named the first team captain since Lou Gehrig. He led the Yankees to three consecutive World Series appearances from 1976 to 1978, and two consecutive World Series championships in 1977 and 1978.
In 1979, Munson died at the age of 32 while practicing landing his Cessna Citation at Akron-Canton Airport. Munson suffered a broken neck as result of the crash, and his cause of death was asphyxiation. His two companions escaped the burned aircraft.
By Dean Hanley
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