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Thurman Munson's Death

Thurman Munson

He was the high-flying captain of the New York Yankees, the first since the legendary Lou Gehrig, who also died before his time. Thurman's quest for more time with his family led to his tragic demise while still in his prime.

Thurman Munson Catching For Yankees

Munson continued a New York Yankees' tradition of great players at catcher like Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra (both in the Baseball Hall of Fame) and Elston Howard (an American League Most Valuable Player in 1963 and the first black Yankee player).

Thurman was:

A family man, he kept his wife and kids at home in Ohio, where he grew up. Because he wanted to spend more time with them during the baseball season, Munson took flying lessons and bought a Cessna Citation.

Some observers later theorized that it was more plane than he could handle with his level of pilot training. While practicing takeoffs and landings he crashed at the Akron-Canton Airport and was killed by asphyxiation. Two passengers escaped.

Thurman Munson Plane Crash Thurman Munson Death Daily News

The Yankee organization, including his teammates and the front office, was stunned by his death and the team's performance sagged for the rest of the 1979 season.

The organization later retired his number 15, never to be worn by another Yankee.

Thurman Munson Retired Number