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12 July 2008

Bobby Murcer dead at 62

Bobby Ray Murcer, one of the most popular players to ever don Yankee Pinstripes, has died of complications from his cancer. He was just 62.

The YES Network made the announcement of Murcer's death shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, mere moments after his Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-4, at Rogers Centre.

It was in late 2006 that the world learned Murcer had contracted a malignant brain tumor. Reports said Murcer had been complaining of a lack of energy prior to the diagnosis, which was made on Christmas Eve that year.

He made several appearances in the YES TV booth in the 2007 season, but despite a strong desire to do so, was unable to call any games in the 2008 season. A recent New York Daily News story indicated he was in "the fight of his life," though no other details about his condition were shared.

Murcer made his Yankees debut on Sept. 8, 1965. Of note, he would go on to man center field at Yankee Stadium, ultimately replacing Mickey Mantle.

Murcer had a strong career, averaging 21 home runs and 89 RBIs. His career batting average was .277.

Aside from the Yankees, Murcer played in San Francisco and in Chicago with the Cubs.

But Murcer is perhaps best known for his broadcasting career, which spanned from the latter part of the 1983 season until last season. He was partnered with many broadcasting greats, most notably Phil Rizzuto. The two had tremendous on-camera chemistry.

Murcer is also well known for his annual on-field commentary of Old Timers Day at the stadium. He would often wear a mic as he played the field and as he went to the plate.

Murcer also made a tremendous impact on the world of tobacco. A long time tobacco user, Murcer went on to become an anti-tobacco advocate, and was the driving force behind a bill in the Oklahoma State Senate which regulated the sale of tobacco in the state to minors.

As news of his death spread Saturday afternoon, many current Yankees, including Jason Giambi, Mariano Rivera and manager Joe Girardi shed tears in interviews about Murcer with the YES Network's Kimberly Jones.

"He was a great Yankee, but as I said before, he was a great friend to all of us," Girardi said. "He always put others first. He cared about the game. He cared about whether we won or lost. He always wore his emotions on his sleeve — and he was one of the few people who got what life was about."

Murcer is survived by his wife, Kay, and his two children, Tori and Todd.

For a complete obituary about Murcer, click here.
— Kevin Canessa Jr.


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