Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bobby Murcer (#657)

This is the first full card for Bobby Murcer. He previously appeared on Yankees Rookies cards in the 1966 and 1967 sets. Bobby was signed by the Yankees in 1964, and played 3 full seasons in the minors (with some late-season cups of coffee in '65 and '66) before losing the '67 and '68 seasons while in the Army.

The back of this card says that Mickey Mantle was Bobby's idol, and that both came from Oklahoma. Another similarity is that they both began their minor-league careers as shortstops. Murcer played only shortstop in the minors, while Mantle switched to outfield for his last season on the farm.

[An aside about Mickey Mantle and Oklahoma: In the summer of 2009, my son and I were driving from Pennsylvania to Arizona. While in Missouri and Oklahoma, we would occasionally get off the interstate and check out some sights on old Route 66. As we entered the extreme northeast corner of Oklahoma, we decided to get off the interstate and drive the half-mile up into Kansas (just to say we were in Kansas). When we picked up Route 66 and drove back into Oklahoma, the first town we entered was Commerce. Driving down the main street, they have banners hanging from the street lights proclaiming it as the hometown of Mickey Mantle. What an unexpected treat, and completely by accident!]



After the army, Murcer rejoined the Yankees for the 1969 season. He began the season as the everyday 3rd baseman. (The Yankees had been trying to patch the 3B hole ever since Clete Boyer was traded after the '66 season. They experimented with converting Roy White to a 3rd baseman in early 1967, then moved on to Charlie Smith, Jerry Kenney and Bobby Cox, before settling on Murcer in 1969.) In mid-May he moved out to right field, and on August 29th, he made his first start at his dream job: Mickey Mantle's heir to the Yankees' centerfield job.

Bobby remained as the Yankees' centerfielder until late-May 1974, when he moved over to right field for the remainder of that season. After 6 full seasons in New York, he was traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds. After 2 seasons as the Giants' rightfielder, it was on to the Cubs in February 1977.

In June 1979, Bobby was traded back to the Yankees, where he played as a part-time outfielder and DH until the Yankees released him in late-June 1983.

The final similarity between Mantle and Murcer is that they both passed away in their early 60s. Murcer's family was on-field for the closing ceremonies at old Yankee Stadium.

1 comment:

Dan Newton said...

I remember the cartoon on the back of his '70 card saying the same thing; he idolized Mantle. What was unusual about that one was the cartoon figure representing Murcer actually wears his number 1.