NEW YORK -- Bobby Murcer succeeded Mickey Mantle, played in pinstripes with Don Mattingly and watched proudly from the broadcast booth when the New York Yankees returned to power.
A cherished link from former Yankees greats to the club's current stars, Murcer died Saturday due to complications from a malignant brain tumor, the team said. He was 62.
|While with the Yankees, Bobby Murcer made the All-Star team for five straight seasons. (Getty Images)|
"Bobby Murcer was a born Yankee, a great guy, very well-liked and a true friend of mine," owner George Steinbrenner said. "I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Kay, their children and grandchildren. I will really miss the guy."
Murcer was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Christmas Eve 2006 after having headaches. He had surgery that week in Houston and doctors later discovered the tumor was malignant. Determined to be around his beloved Yankees, Murcer returned to the broadcast booth last year and briefly this season.
The only person to play with Mantle and Mattingly, the popular Murcer hit .277 with 252 home runs and 1,043 RBI in 17 seasons with the Yankees, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs. He made the All-Star team in both leagues and won a Gold Glove.
"All of Major League Baseball is saddened today by the passing of Bobby Murcer, particularly on the eve of this historic All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, a place he called home for so many years," commissioner Bud Selig said. "Bobby was a gentleman, a great ambassador for baseball, and a true leader both on and off the field. He was a man of great heart and compassion."
Always a fan favorite in New York and known for his folksy manner as a broadcaster, Murcer won three Emmy Awards for live sports coverage. His most dramatic words came during his time as a player on one of the saddest days in Yankees history.
Murcer delivered one of the eulogies in Ohio after captain Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash in August 1979. The team flew home after the funeral and, that night, Murcer hit a three-run homer and then a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to beat Baltimore 5-4.
A tearful Murcer fell into the arms of teammate Lou Piniella after the game and gave his bat to Munson's wife.
"There is no way to explain what happened," Murcer said. "We used every ounce of strength to go out and play that game. We won it for Thurman."
The Yankees learned of Murcer's death Saturday after a 9-4 victory in Toronto. Visibly upset, players such as Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte spoke softly about how much Murcer meant to them.
"He touched everybody," Rivera said.