haven't had this much fun reading a book about the yankees since last year's "the greatest game: the yankees, the red sox, and the playoff of '78" by richard bradley. in between these two good books was the grim kiss and tell, "the yankee years" by joe torre, which left a bitter aftertaste when i was done. since thurman munson is my all-time favorite yankee, and since i read marty appel's "autobiography" of munson more than 30 years ago, this was a much anticipated summer read for me. i grew up watching munson play from the mid to late 70's, with the highlight being the 1978 season.
it's not often an author gets a "do-over" when covering a subject (especially when he did it well the first time). with 2009 as the 3oth anniversary of munson's plane crash, the timing of book is fitting. i wasn't sure there would be much new material - anything worthwhile that hasn't already been said or written about during that time span. but a combination of the deeper look at munson's unhappy family life during growing up, and a more exhaustive review of the events that led up to the crash and the post-crash reactions of the yankees, the book is definitely worth reading (for thurman junkies or yankee fans in general).
one thing the book did is it put to rest any lingering hope i may have harbored that munson should be in the hall of fame. emotion always blinded me to his borderline qualifications. the bottom line is he just didn't play long enough to generate the bona fides needed for induction. people argue what could have been (but munson's declining physical condition made his continued role as catcher sketchy at best), but the hall of fame is for what players have done. many a hall of fame career is prematurely derailed by injury. munson's tragic death was an extreme expression of that very sad fact.
check out this interview with marty appel on ny baseball digest.
"munson: the life and death of a yankee captain" is a must read for yankee fans (of all generations).