July 17, 2010 — As I was driving to Yankee Stadium yesterday, I thought about an old friend — Bobby Murcer. Specifically, I thought about all the stories I heard about his performance in the first game after Thurman Munson’s unexpected death.
In that game, Murcer went 4-for-4, and had a game-winning hit. He would later give the bat he used in that contest to Munson’s widow, Diana.
While there were plenty of great games in Murcer’s career, that one stood out.
Well, for Nick Swisher, last night’s game will stand out. It was the Yankees first game since the deaths of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. And Swisher came up as big as ever, hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth inning and driving in the winning run with a single in the 10th inning.
Long before Swisher’s heroics, the Yankees honored Steinbrenner and Sheppard in a moving ceremony.
The ceremony began with a video tribute to the Boss, which was followed by a three-minute ovation. Mariano Rivera placed two red roses on home plate and Derek Jeter asked the crowd to honor the fallen heroes with a moment of silence.
That moment was truly silent, and it was followed by a bugler who performed a rendition of “Taps.”
The ceremony concluded with public address announcer Paul Olden informing the crowd that for the first time in modern history, the game would be played without any further announcements from the public address booth — in honor of Sheppard.
The ceremony mirrored the class of Sheppard and Steinbrenner, and like both men, it was unforgettable. The Yankees will to win was an even greater tribute to the fallen icons.
–Alfred Santasiere III