Here is a rare chance to own a documented Thurman Munson bat from his Rookie of the Year season, and from a possible HR game.
Thurman Munson, who left us way too early, is always mentioned with the Yankee greats. Standing 5’11” and weighing 190 pounds, this future Yankee captain was drafted (4th pick) of the 1968 amateur draft and hailed from Canton, OH.
Called up for 26 games in 1969, Munson became the starting catcher the following season. In 132 games, Munson batted .302, enough to earn American League Rookie of the Year honors.
Munson played 11 years with the New York Yankees and has been called one of the greatest catchers of the 1970s.
His intense attitude, sharp thinking and leadership soon earned him the position of team captain. This was an honor because he was the first named captain since the great Lou Gehrig. He also earned three Gold Gloves due to his defensive playing abilities behind home plate. In 1976 he won the Most Valuable Player award for hitting .302 and 105 RBI’s. During his span with the Yankees he led them to three American League pennants and two World Championships.
His baseball career was cut tragically short when he died in an airplane accident while practicing landing. He is not forgotten today, and a replica of his locker containing everything from his spikes to his catchers’ mitt is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. (Parts taken from the official Thurman Munson website).
Our consignor was fortunate to obtain this bat directly at a Yankee game in Baltimore Orioles during the 1970 season. Factory records support this claim.
The Hillerich & Bradsby centerbrand dates this bat to the 1969-72 era. Munson’s model number, S2, is factory stamped onto the knob. Bat current measures 35” and weighs 31 ounces.
A review of his personal bat records from H&B indicates the following orders for S2 bats during the era:
12-26-69, 35”, 32 oz.
3-3-70, 35”, 32 oz.
4-3-70, 35”, 32 oz.
6-26-70, 35”, 32 oz. (Last order of the S2 model)
On July 13th, 1970, Munson switched to the S44 model.
Factory records document this as being used by Munson during the 1970 season and this is supported by our consignor’s recollection. After documenting the shipping of the bat to Munson by the Louisville Slugger factory, we checked the 1970 baseball schedule for Yankee trips to Baltimore. The following box scores were tallied by Munson during the bats label period:
4-17-70, Munson 0-5
4-18-70, Munson 0-5
4-19-70, Munson 0-2
4-19-70 Munson day off
7-7-70, Munson 1-4
7-9-70, Munson 4-4, HR of McNally
7-9-70, Munson 0-1
Although we can conclusively attribute this bat to one of the above games based on the factory records and the consignor’s appearance at the game in Baltimore, he did not remember the exact day the bat was gifted to him, just the fact he was in Baltimore and they were playing the Yankees. For full disclosure, Munson may have gone 0-5, but he also may have hit the HR.
With respect to game use, the exhibits heavy game use, with heavy ball marks, rack marks, and some light deadwood on the reverse grain.
During the game vs. Baltimore, Munson cracked the bat at the area near the Powerized and the bat broke cleanly in half to the barrel end. The consignor had the bat repaired. Upon inspection you can see the original repair but there are no missing pieces.
Final Grade: 5 points were assigned for the bat matching factory records, 3 points were assigned for the bat having heavy game use, 2 points were added for the provenance and the fact the bat matched factory records for a specific period of time. Minus 2 points for the repaired crack. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS