When New York Yankees catcher and captain died suddenly in a plane crash on August 2, 1979, he left behind a huge — though unfinished — legacy.

And he also left behind a library of quotes that help preserve his impact on the game of baseball even today.

Here are some of the best …

Quotes by Thurman Munson

Maybe they made me captain because I’ve been here so long, but if I’m supposed to lead by example, then I’ll be a terrible captain.


I’m a little too belligerent. I cuss and swear at people. I yell at umpires and maybe I’m a little too tough at home sometimes. I don’t sign as many autographs as I should and I haven’t always been very good with writes.

AP Wire reports on his death, 8/3/1979

Everybody is so sensitive. You’d think Nolan Ryan is pitching.

Wide colloquial Attribution

I need to make sure, that when I am finished playing baseball, I could provide for my family. I don’t want to be just a dumb jock. I want to be a businessman; somebody that understands the economic ways of the world and I can use baseball as a way to launch myself into my next career.

Jerry Anderson, via ESPN

I just let my development as a catcher come naturally. Defense wasn’t that important to me then, I just loved to hit and it didn’t matter where I played in the field.

SABR Baseball Biography

The catcher is the most important man in the game. He does the same kind of job a quarterback does in football. He directs the pitchers and calls the game for them. He must know the capabilities and weaknesses of each batter who comes to the plate. He also acts as kind of a field general because from his position he can oversee the entire field. Even more, he has the important duty of protecting home plate as the runner comes tearing in to try to make the score.

Interview with Washington Post

I like hitting fourth and I like the good batting average, but what I do everyday behind the plate is a lot more important because it touches so many more people and so many more aspects of the game.


I started playing as a kid, and I was ‘littler’ than most. This might sound corny but I remember seeing a lot of horses back in Ohio and baseball reminded me of a stallion just running free. There was freedom to the game. No matter what your problems were and what you had on your mind, when you played baseball you forgot about it.

The Akron Beacon Journal (August 3, 1979) — as reported by Marty Appel

Quotes About Thurman Munson:

Of all the Yankee hitters, Thurman Munson was the one that scared me the most when he came up. He had that swing and that heart, he was just totally clutch.

Charlie Lau

Thurman Munson was easy to umpire behind. He never held a grudge if I blew a call and was always a lot of fun to talk to, besides being a great catcher.

Ron Luciano

He was ready for anything back there.

Billy Martin

Thurman was one of the things you could always count on.

Billy Martin

Our first trip into Boston after Thurman died, some assholes began chanting Munson sucks…totally classless.

Jim Spencer

Nah, Thurman’s not moody. When you’re moody you’re nice sometimes. Thurman’s just mean.

Sparky Lyle

Thurman Munson is a nice guy who doesn’t want anybody to know it. He didn’t get the press his abilities and leadership deserved. The papers didn’t like him much because he was outspoken. But he was always honest. He leveled with the writers he felt were on the level, the others he didn’t care about.

Gabe Paul, Yankees president, in The Sheboygan Press on 8/3/1979

People sometimes got the wrong impression of Thurman, that he was grumpy, that he was a tough guy. He wasn’t like that at all. To me he was friendly, witty, charming, a real good friend. That’s what I’ll remember about him, the good times, the kidding around, the laughter, the beers after a game together. In all the years I’ve played this game, he is the finest competitor I have ever seen, the most professional, the best example of a team player.

Lou Piniella