Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Bobby Murcer is having surgery today. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this week. Our best wishes go out to Murcer and his family.
Speedy recovery, Bobby. My prayers are with you.
My sentiments exactly .... I grew up with Murcer as my first favorite player, and I too was crushed when he was traded.
Best wishes for a clean bill of health Bobby!
It was a beautiful, midweek game, and to our delight, a stadium with tons of empty seats. By the 6th inning, our boys were down 6-0, when my friend saw 2 seats right behind the 3rd base dugout... just calling to us. From the upper deck, we may our slow, and illegal decent down to the field. We 'stole' 2 seats in the middle deck for the 7th. Embolded by not being caught, we made our way down to 'Paradise behind 3rd'.
Trying to look like we belonged, we made our way to those 2 seats, 4 rows back of the dugout. We settled in and tried our best to look like we belonged... and waited for the inevitable usher to throw us out. But God, like the sun, shone bright on us that day.
Up comes Bobby Murcer in the last inning, while most of the fans are catching a few Zzzzs. With Bobby being a lefty, from our seats RIGHT BEHIND THE 3RD BASE DUGOUT, we could see perfectly, the pitch... the timing... and swing. And Bobby rewarded us for our bravery by hitting a long HR to right.
Buoyed by not being shutout, we nestled into OUR seats, and waited that longest hour or so, before the 2nd game started. Up comes Murcer in the first, against LH pitcher Mike Paul, to a nice round of cheers. And a few pitches later, out goes a line drive into the seats in right. A 2 HR day for Bobby would have me and my friend Phillip smiling for a week.
Up comes Bobby in the 3rd. What dare we hope for? He is still zoned in, pulling liners into the seats in foul ground. We can actually see the bat hitting the ball. It seems like Bobby can't miss. I guess Mike Paul agreed, and after a few foul liners, he walked Bobby.
With the Yanks down 2-1, Murcer strides to the plate in the 5th. 2 HRs and a BB in his last 3 ABs, Phil and I knew we shouldn't be asking for too much, and a line single would be more then enough. AND THERE IT IS..... ohhhhhh... just foul! Bobby is so zoned in. Straighten it out Bobby! WE KNOW a hit is coming... a vicious line drive.
Mike Paul doesn't know how to get one past Bobby. High heat is the answer. He rocks, the throws above the belt, and Bobby can't hit it on a line. Instead, he hits a tremendous high drive. We jump to our feet! Our brains know this is GONE but our hearts know it's too much to ask. So we watch the RF'er go back, waiting for the catch, as he just looks straight up, and watches the ball sail deep, deep into the sun,
We are sated! 3 HRs in a row, for Bobby... a guy who's best year saw 26 HRs. Really. An unbelievable feat. Yanks up 3-2 in what was to be a perfect day.
Stan (famous wife swapping) Bahnsen is having his day. Right up until the 8th. With one out, catch Ray Fosse singles. Up come Craig Nettles. In what must have been a premonition of the future, before we even have time to panic, Nettles drives a low liner into the short porch. Indians up 4-3.
In the 8th, Kennedy and Clarke go down easy. Batting 2nd, with 2 outs, up comes Murcer. Understand, in those days, the Yankees scoring with 2 out is as common as an eclipse of the sun. Roy white is on deck. What dare we hope for? A single and then a double for White?
We are squirming in our seats. No more Mike Paul to embarrass. In is a giant in his day, RH pitcher, 6'4, Fred Lasher.
And before our bowels even get a chance to loosen, on the first pitch...
BOBBY HITS A TREMENDOUS DRIVE! UPPER DECK! WAY OUT OF HERE! Curving... NO! Curving... No! CURVING..... FOUL!
We are both giggling like idiots to keep from crying. Our hopes dashed before we could even hope them.
But Bobby is SO ZONED IN!
Ever thing is moving in slow motion now. Between the time it takes for the ball to leave Lasher's hand and reach Bobby's bat, there is enough time for our whole lives to flash before us.
HIGH LINE DRIVE!
Foul... into the seats in foul territory.
2 strikes. Bobby strikes out a lot.
He has hit 3 HRs in a row.
We have no right... no right, to ask for more.
Bobby has always been stiff at the plate. He is bent in an awkward crouch. He is very still at the plate, aside from his gentle rocking from front foot to back... front foot to back.
The 2 strike pitch... LINE DRIVE!!! FOUL!!!
This is so painful.
I have never seen a batter so locked in.
Everything near the plate in a slow motion beach ball, magnetically attracted to Bobby's bat.
SCREAMING GROUNDER!!! FOUL!!
Phil and I are standing... holding each other.. hoping.. praying... literally on the verge of tears.
A pitch.. HIGH! HARD! HOMERUN DISTANCE! CURVING! FOUL!
My God! This is torture! STRIKE OUT ALREADY! We are only 16. We're good boys. We don't deserve this.
But Laser is throwing a rubber ball underhand, and Bobby has a titanium tennis racket.
ANOTHER SMASH LINE DRIVE! FOUL!
My God... Bobby can't miss!
I can't remember how many shots Bobby pulled foul. There were at least 2 HRs, 2 Liners, 1 grounder. I believe even more. I only remember an eternity of successive feelings of euphoria... dashed hopes... euphoria... dashed hopes... euphoria... dashed hopes.
Hoping for the improbable... the impossible.
Bobby has used up a month's worth of smashed balls.
Our knees are weak. We and still standing... arms wrapped around each other... waiting for the inevitable blow. Reality. And we will welcome it. We have died too many times in that at bat. We needed for it to be over.
But there is another pitch... and another high drive... destined again to threaten the foul pole.
This one is not pulled so much. It's headed for the meat of right field. There is a different sound to the crowd! we don't know it, but we are jumping up and down. Bobby has dropped his bat. He starts into a trot. The right fielder is drifting back aimlessly, looking up.
Phil and I are locked together. Our eyes are wet. Well after the ball has dropped deep into right field, as Murcer trots around second base, we are still afraid to believe what has just happened. It is 1970. This is Bobby Murcer. You don't hit four home runs, in a row, in one day. Yes... ONCE, one Yankee named Lou Gehrig did it. But this is not Lou, or Babe, or even Mickey. This is Bobby.
So I guess this is a miracle.
And Bobby is in the dugout, the Yanks have tied the game, and Phil and I realize we are still standing, hugging each other, and both crying with exhaustion.
We untangle ourselves and someone will our knees to bend, which are weak but locked in our upright position.
We sit. I have not done any drugs at this age yet. This is my first out-of-body experience.
We need time to recover. We cheer a little when Roy White doubles with 2 out and the game tied. But the game really doesn't matter now. We are actually a little elated when Danny Cater drives Roy home to take the lead. We are pleasantly delighted when Lindy McDaniel throws the final pitch to save a 5-4 Yankee win.
But the Yankees have won before, although never quite in this fashion.
But what's a Yankee win compared to a miracle.
So I thank you Bobby, for a memory that is now 36 years old, but still as fresh and exhilarating as it was in 1970.
And I know it's not too much to ask for another small miracle.
That sometime soon, I will be hearing you laugh, while you humbly tell this story, about a pretty good day you had, and the greatest day I ever had.
(excerpt from Murcer's bio at SABR.org)
He serves as the chairman of the board of the Baseball Assistance Team, which grants money to former players and other baseball figures who are in need. In this capacity, he visits Major League teams during spring training, explaining the mission of the charity and soliciting funds. Bobby has called this work "probably the most important thing I've done in my professional life."
The other important calling he has found has been his fight against cancer. In 1989, his older brother DeWayne died of lung cancer at forty-seven, and in 1995 his mother also succumbed to the effects of the disease. Both deaths were related to smoking. Bobby himself started smoking at the age of fourteen, later switching to smokeless tobacco, and appeared in ads for Skoal brand tobacco. To try to keep others from making the same mistakes, Bobby helped push through the Oklahoma legislature the Bobby Murcer Tobacco Addiction Prevention Bill, which increased fines for anyone selling tobacco products to minors. In 1990 he began an annual golf tournament which has raised more than $1,000,000. Much of the proceeds has been given to the American Cancer Society; some have been used to help fund an endowed chair for pediatric cancer research at the University of Oklahoma. For his good works, he has received several citizenship awards, and has also been honored by being inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Just another reason I root for Murcer ...
Thanks for painting such a vivid picture ...
I think it would be nice for him to know, straight from our mouths, the impact he has had on some many of us.
I second that emotion ....
HOUSTON - Former New York Yankees player Bobby Murcer was recovering at a Houston hospital Thursday after surgery to remove a brain tumor.
The 60-year-old Murcer, now a Yankees broadcaster, was awake and resting comfortably at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the top cancer facilities in the nation, hospital officials said in a statement.
"The Murcer family would like to thank all those who have extended their well wishes and support," the statement said.
19 Outstanding news! Here's to his full and fast recovery!
His wife says he'll be at spring training.
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