It might be a bit of a downer for some, but for me, there was never any choice but to make the Thurman Munson the Player Of The Month for the first August that came up. Gotta pay respect and all.
Over the course of the last year, you've probably seen me post a ton of these cards, multiple times in some cases. This '78 card, one of the most badass cards ever (though, as you can see above, Thurman was no stranger to badass cards), stands out in my head as the first baseball card I remember seeing that was issued before I started collecting in 1980, and a copy of it (maybe this one, not sure) is the first baseball card I bought as a single, probably sometime in 1981. I think I paid $.75 for it.
Because I was a little late to the party on the '77-'78 Yankee teams (I knew who Reggie was pretty early because he was more like a cartoon character than a ballplayer, but that was about it initially), I actually never got to see Thurman Munson play during his career. The first thing I'd heard of him, as a young kid, was that he died. (The same thing applies to John Lennon, actually; I'd heard of The Beatles, but didn't know their names as individual people until Lennon was shot.) I have seen him play in a number of games since then, as the YES Network plays classic Yankee games from time to time.
By most accounts, Thurman Munson was a pretty gruff sonuvabitch. My favorite Munson stories to date, I've heard Goose Gossage tell. I'll paraphrase them both here. On one occasion, Goose came to the mound to start pitching, and he didn't see any signs from Munson on what to pitch. He kept looking, and nothing. So, he called Munson out to the mound and said "I couldn't see your signs." Munson responded with "I didn't put any down." Gossage was kinda flustered by this. "What do you mean you didn't put any down?" Munson said "Let's face it, we all know what you're gonna throw."
On another occasion, Munson came out to the mound when Gossage was pitching and asked him, deadpan, "OK, how are you going to lose this one?"
I've actually got a good chunk of Munson's cards, including all of his base Topps cards. Mind you, in some cases, like his rookie card, featured here, I have it on a technicality, as the card is barely a baseball card at this point, but I do still have it. I'd consider "upgrading", but I doubt I'd ever unload the lesser condition Munsons, because I've noticed something throughout my years of collecting: if you go through a stack of cards from Munson's playing years and find his card, he's almost always the most beaten-up card in the bunch, because the kids who pulled his cards and bothered to keep them for this long really loved his cards. I'd say that there were some who hated his cards (and I know that, at the time, Josh Wilker wasn't much of a fan as a kid), but at least in my neck of the woods, I never see these cards with ink on them. They're creased, bent, the corners are shot, you name it, but no one ever drew on Munson around here. Though he was a surly guy who didn't have his own candy bar (and don't get me wrong, defying pretty much all logic, I love Reggie too), Thurman Munson was a guy who people loved and respected, and they still do.
As I do every month, I'm extending the following offer: for all of August, if you think of trading with me, think first and foremost about trading your spare Thurman Munson cards to me. (Even if I have 'em, I could use upgrades on a few, like '73, '77 and, if you're feeling incredibly generous, '70.) While trading can be an inexact science so your mileage may vary just as mine may, I will consider all Thurman Munson cards (old, new, whatever) to be worth double of what I would any other stuff I'd get in trades this month. I'll be making this offer for each Player Of The Month. My Thurman Munson haves are listed below.
Thurman Munson (24): 70-79 Topps (70 is ROUGH), 75 Topps Mini, 77-79 Topps Burger King, 11 Topps Gypsy Queen, 11 Topps Gypsy Queen The Great Ones, 10 Topps National Chicle 237, 09 Topps Ring Of Honor, 10 Topps 206, 89 Score A Tribute, 07 SP Legendary Cuts, 76, 78 SSPC, 01 Upper Deck Decades