I was attending a birthday party this afternoon – with my wife and kids. It was a kid’s party – for the daughter of my long-time friend, Mike.
At one point, Mike and I were chatting by the pool and his brother-in-law Chris (who is also a friend of mine) came over and shared “Bad news. Bobby Murcer passed away today.”
Within a few seconds, my wife came over and joined the conversation – and I updated her on what Chris had just shared. She looked at me, and then turned to my friend Mike, and said to him (motioning at me) “He’s probably already thinking about what he’s going to write when we get home.”
To be honest, I was still processing the whole thing when she said that; but, after hearing it, I thought, to myself, “Gosh, what can anyone possibly say about this at this point?”
After a minute or so, I came to this conclusion: “It’s sad. It shouldn’t be a shock. And, since Bobby’s in a better place now, let’s celebrate his life.” Here’s why I feel this way:
Having recently read Bobby’s book, I knew that his doctors told him on December 29, 2006, that the bell curve life expectancy for someone in his situation was 14 months. And, I knew (reading the book) that Bobby took part in a chemo and radiation “double whammy” trial in February 2007 – with the hope that it could, maybe, double his life expectancy.
Hey, I did the math on this long before today. Fourteen months from year-end 2006 was Feburary 2008. Add another fourteen months and that would be April of 2009. In fact, in his book, Murcer talked about making it to Opening Day 2009, at the new Yankee Stadium, as one of his big goals following his treatment (in the “double-whammy” trial).
So, when we heard recently that Bobby had slowed, I thought that it was time to start preparing myself for some sad news…between now and next Opening Day. And, therefore, I wasn’t totally shocked to hear the news on Bobby this afternoon.
Sure, I’m somewhat sad over this development. However, I know (again, reading Murcer’s book) that Bobby was prepared for, and at peace with, what was coming down the road. And, since he was recently suffering, it’s comforting to know, now, that he no longer has to deal with the physical battle of his condition.
At a time like this, I would recommend that we celebrate Bobby Murcer’s life – rather than mourn his passing.
As a player, Bobby Murcer was an icon in the New York sports scene in the 1970’s. During this time he was also one of the best batters in the game. For the decade of the ‘70’s, Bobby Murcer is among the top ten (of all major leaguers) in Games Played, At Bats, Hits, Runs Scored, Total Bases, Walks and Runs Batted In. During his career, Bobby was selected to the All-Star team five times.
Murcer, in his retirement from active play, became, to Yankees-baseball, what Tommy Lasorda is to the Dodgers and Ron Santo is to the Cubs. Bobby was a guy who loved the Yankees organization, was proud to be a part of its history, and who was not shy to promote that love and pride.
And, that’s what I want to think about now…when I think about Bobby Murcer. I’m going to focus on the fact that he was a great baseball player from the 1970’s and a long-time positive spokesperson for the Yankees organization. And, I’m thrilled that I had a chance to meet him, just six weeks ago, even if it was just for a few seconds and to tell him that it was a pleasure to meet him.
And, I’m going to think about one other thing.
It’s somewhat public knowledge that Bobby Murcer had a thing for rocking chairs. According to Murcer, there’s been a rocking chair in the Murcer household since 1966. He found them to be relaxing. He had one in the clubhouse both times when he was a Yankees player. And, he even brought his rocker with him when he played for the Giants and the Cubs.
So, today, I’m thinking that there’s now one less empty rocking chair in heaven. And, the guy sitting in it is wearing Yankee pinstripes…and wearing them proudly. And, he’s at peace.
Rest in peace Bobby. You deserve it. And, thanks for everything.