|Murcer: Loss of teammate unforgettable|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 30 April 2007 14:54|
The same day he delivered an emotional eulogy for dear friend and teammate Thurman Munson, Murcer returned to the field and carried the New York Yankees to dramatic, come-from-behind victory 28 years ago.
Murcer was honored at a banquet Monday night one day before he returns to his job as a team broadcaster with the Yankees. A winner of three Emmys as a broadcaster, Murcer has missed the first month of the season after having surgery on a malignant brain tumor in December.
He's looking forward to getting back to the booth but his thoughts also were with the Cardinals.
``A team is a family. You can look at baseball and the team as a family. You can imagine what a family would do. A baseball family is no different than an immediate blood family,'' Murcer said.
``They're going to surround each other, they're going to comfort each other and they're going to support each other.''
Murcer knows firsthand the type of feelings the Cardinals are enduring after Hancock died in a car accident early Sunday. Munson, the Yankees' catcher, died in a plane crash in the middle of the 1979 season. The same day as the funeral, Murcer hit a three-run homer and a game-winning, two-run single as the Yankees rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4.
``You don't forget about it,'' Murcer said. ``Every day Thurman was supposed to be there, but he wasn't there. You realize that there's a missing person that was there. So, sure, you're reminded each and every day.''
After canceling Sunday night's game against the Cubs, the Cardinals were back in action Monday night at Milwaukee. The team is expected to attend Hancock's funeral on their off day Thursday.
``Those things are very tragic and they come sudden, and I think you're in shock for the first several days because he's there one day and the next day he's not there,'' Murcer said. ``That's a tragedy for his family. That's a tragedy for the baseball family. You feel so bad for he and his family, and it's a hard thing to get over. They certainly won't be forgetting.''
Murcer, a five-time All-Star who followed fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle in center field for the Yankees, plans to return to his job Tuesday night when New York plays at Texas.
``I'll be back tomorrow, and I'm going to do my full schedule this year, so I'm excited about that,'' said Murcer, who visited the broadcast booth after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on opening day at Yankee Stadium.
Murcer was diagnosed with the brain tumor on Christmas Eve and had surgery four days later. Since then, he has been making trips between his Oklahoma City home and Houston for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He is now part of a vaccine trial.
``There's no cure for this, so the vaccine trial is a vaccine to hopefully be able to treat it as a chronic disease and keep it in check,'' Murcer said.
Murcer expects to continue treatment for the rest of his life. He currently has an MRI exam every other month to make sure there is no tumor growth.
``It was quite a shock when I was diagnosed with the brain tumor, but to tell you the truth I've gone through the surgery and the radiation and the first round of chemo and I've had no really terrible side effects or no setbacks or anything like that. I consider that to be a blessing,'' Murcer said.
``I know the Lord is on my side, and he has already blessed me with recovery and no setbacks, and we're moving forward.''
Murcer played 17 seasons in the major leagues from 1965-83. He batted .277 with 252 home runs and 1,043 RBIs with the Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs. He hopes to be a good luck charm for the Yankees, who have lost eight of their last nine games and are in last place in the AL East.
``You've got to remember it's an endurance test. It's not who sprints out of the gate first. Most of the time the horse that does sprint out of the gate first doesn't really do that well,'' Murcer said. ``It just depends on who can sustain 162 games.''