The Book: Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain
The Author: Marty Appel
Rating: A must read for Thurman Munson fans, 4-out-of-5
Published by: Doubleday in 2009
First a bit of background about the book’s author Marty Appel. Appel graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1970 and got his first job with the Yankees answering fan mail for Mickey Mantle. In 1973 he was named PR Director of the team only to leave in 1977 to start his own sports management company. He’s had a variety of jobs since then even winning himself an Emmy as the executive producer of Yankees telecasts.
After the 1976 season he helped Munson co-write his autobiography. Munson was not the type of player who was necessarily interested in doing something like that, but Appel told him that someone was eventually going to write a biography on him and he might as well have the first crack at it and make some money off of it. Munson agreed and they wrote a book.
This book is sort of a response to that one as Appel said that Munson never really opened up the way he wanted and expected him to. So 30 years after his death he wrote this book in an effort to tell the entire story.
This is a great book about a great player and I think Appel got to the heart of what made Munson tick. It’s certainly got some great anecdotes and even some funny ones, but overall I could not bring myself to give this book a five out of five if only because it is so emotional that I don’t think it is for everyone.
It is a well researched book, he conducted over 150 interviews, by a guy who was familiar enough with Munson that he probably did not need to go that far. The story is told in the voice of Appel and he did a great job getting insight from teammates, family, and friends of Munson.
I imagine this has to be one of the most detailed an accurate accounts of the events surrounding his death which is what makes it, particularly the second half, such an emotional tale. His death is recounted by former Yankees, George Steinbrenner, family, friends, and even the people aboard the plane with Munson when it crashed. It’s really a hard thing to get through and I was forced to put the book down more than once.
If you want to read a book about Thurman Munson, I cannot fathom that there would be a better book to turn to. Any Yankee fan over the age of 40 should probably buy this immediately and younger Yankee fans should probably buy it as well. It’s the best way to get a good appreciation for one of the players that had a large impact on Yankees history without putting up Joe DiMaggio-esq numbers to do it.
On a personal note, I should say one of the very few perks of running a Yankees blog is that I sometimes get free books sent to me. This was one of the freebies, but it should be noted that had I gotten this book for free or paid twice the cover price it would not have changed my opinion of this book in any way. Munson was truly a great Yankee and this was a story that could only be told in such a way by the book’s author Marty Appel.