In New York, if you don't fulfill your on-field expectations, they usually run you out of town. Bobby Murcer, who died on July 12 at the age of 62, didn't live up to his billing as the next Mickey Mantle, a fellow Oklahoma boy whom he succeeded in center field. Though a fine player and a five-time All-Star, Murcer never sniffed the Hall of Fame. Yet with his class, grace and a good ole Southern charm he shared with fans for 23 years in the broadcast booth, he was one of the most beloved Yankees.
With a sweet lefty swing fit for Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch, Murcer was the best player on some middling Yankee teams of the late '60s and early '70s. In 1983, George Steinbrenner gave Murcer a full 30 minutes to decide if he wanted to end his playing days to move into the booth. He wisely accepted, teaming with the late Phil (Scooter) Rizzuto to form one of the best buddy acts in broadcasting.
Murcer fought through brain cancer to call games last season. "Though I've become something of a weeper," he wrote in his autobiography, Yankee for Life, released this spring, "I find myself laughing as much as I ever did, if not more." Somewhere he and Scooter are keeping them hootin'.