(8.02.15 No.101 —

By Steve Hermanos

I’m OK to say goodbye,
36 years after,
your plane demolished itself,
Thurman Munson, man;

Your uniform: 15
My high school baseball uniform: 15
My soccer uniform: 15;

“Why do you wear 15, Steve?”
“For Thurman Munson,
Captain of the Yankees,
Leader to the past two World championships”;
+ my daydream
of taking the field at Yankee Stadium
(If you’d let me take your number out or retirement);

In those olden days,
News arrived
Via radio, TV,
Or paper,
Phones were corded to the wall—
as “Thurman Munson is dead!”
was shouted by
a disturbed neighborhood boy,
So I disregarded the thought
About you;

15 minutes later,
A friend told me,
“On the radio,
They just said,
Thurman Munson is dead;
His plane crashed,
He was the pilot”;

That night,
I did the only thing a stupid teenager would do,
I tried to drink 15 beers,
In honor of Thurman Munson and his number;

Now, in 2015,
No one else in the world
is poring over,
The August 3, 1979
New York Post,
Its Major League standings devoid of
Rockies, Diamondbacks,
Teams from Florida or D.C.,
The Expos remaining the Expos;

You burnt, crushed in the pilot seat,
I’m still awaiting the reincarnation;

The sportswriters despised you because
You didn’t talk to them,
Didn’t care about feeding the press;
Boston’s Carlton Fisk disdained you,
And I met a guy in Boca Raton
Who played with you in the minors,
Who, in the locker room, fought you
And his knee ligaments tore in the battle;

But so what? I don’t care about minor-league ligaments;

September 2, 1979,
Senior year, high school,
I stitched a finger-wide
Strip of black felt
Onto the right short sleeve of
my number 15 soccer jersey—
Copying the Yankees uniforms’ black strip—
The only guy
Running the field,
In mourning;

To inquiring opposing players
and spectators,
I explained, “It’s for Thurman Munson”
Trotting away;

(You want to be a writer?
Start out functionally depressed,
Overflowing with strange ideas,
Then have your boyhood idol

In Spring 1980,
The same scissors
messily cut from the same black felt swath;
The same needle sewed a strip,
Onto the right sleeve of my baseball uniform,
Bury the dead with sewing skills;

And I guess I’ve said goodbye,
To all of your Topps baseball cards,
To every eBay newspaper,
Slicing the package open,
Transporting to
August 2,3,4,5,6,


Too much nostalgia is a bad thing,
I guess;
It can keep one living in the past,
But I like a past of
Thurman Munson tagging out Steve Garvey at the plate,
Thurman Munson making Sparky Lyle a great relief pitcher,
Thurman Munson forging Ron Guidry into a star,
Thurman Munson hitting .476 in the World Series of 1976,
Thurman Munson joyously reaching out to Reggie Jackson after Jackson’s
epic 3rd home run
sealing the 1977 World Series,
Thurman Munson fighting the Red Sox,
Thurman Munson winning again in ’78,
a world of Yankees and John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd and Gilda Radner,
And new girls and new bars,
New paintings in new museums,
New parties, new long late-night taxi rides,
Discoteques and 3 a.m. dinners,
And we’re World Champions again, man!

So, yeah, it’s August 2, 2015,
I am almost old
as Babe Ruth,
when he died;

We’ve got all these,
Technology gadgets;
The game is still the game,
The guys make a ton more money,
Fenway Park is the same;

36 years is a long time,
Isn’t it?

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