Over 40 years after his death, Thurman Munson is back on the Hall-of-Fame ballot.
The New York Yankees legend was included on the 10-man Modern Baseball Era Committee ballot. The sole purpose of the committee is to consider players, managers, and executives who were active between 1970-1987 and are no longer eligible for the main Baseball Writers Association of America ballot.
To receive induction via the Modern Era Committee, the individual must receive votes on 12 of the committee’s 16 ballots.
Amongst other notable local names are fellow Yankees Don Mattingly and Tommy John, but there is going to be plenty of focus placed on Munson — who was one of the game’s premier catcher’s before his tragic death in a plane crash in 1979.
The Yankee captain spent 15 years on the BBWAA ballot, but never received more than 15.5-percent of the vote. A player needs at least 75-percent of the vote for induction.
With the presence of the Modern Era Committee, though, Munson gets a second chance where the baseball world will once again delve into his stats.
And they were some of the best ever for a major-league catcher.
In 11 MLB seasons (10 full seasons), Munson slashed .292/.346/.410 with 1,558 hits, 113 home runs, and 701 RBI. He was selected to seven All-Star Games, was the 1970 Rookie of the Year, three-straight Gold Glove Awards from 1973-75, and won the American League MVP Award in 1976 after batting .302 with 17 home runs and 105 RBI.
The numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but the accolades surely do.
Most of all, Munson was a winner, helping the Yankees to World Series titles in 1977 and 1978.
He was one of the best postseason hitters of his generation, too. In 30-career playoff games, Munson slashed .357/.378/.496 with three home runs and 22 RBI.
Had Munson had a full career, it’s quite likely that he would have been inducted into the Hall of Fame during his first chance at eligibility. Now, unfortunately, the Modern Era Committee is left to break down the numbers and make a difficult decision regarding Munson’s Hall-of-Fame fate.
So, does Thurman Munson deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown?
I will not provide my personal opinion because I never saw him play (I was born in 1991) and feel unqualified to make such a call.
But, if you take Munson’s numbers and compare them to the most notable Hall-of-Famers that played predominantly as catchers over their first full 10 years in the MLB, then the answer is yes.
Just take a look:
Games over 10 full seasons: 1,397
Slash Line: .292/.347/.411
Home Runs: 112
Accolades: Rookie of the Year, 1x AL MVP, 3x Gold Glove, 7x All-Star, 2x World Series
Games over first 10 full MLB seasons: 1,487
Slash Line: .279/.345/.488
Home Runs: 286
Accolades: Rookie of the Year, 2x NL MVP, 10x Gold Glove, 10x All-Star, 1x World Series
Games over first 10 full MLB seasons: 1,333
Slash Line: .294/.356/.497
Home Runs: 236
Accolades: 3x AL MVP, 9x All-Star, 7x World Series
Games over first 10 full MLB seasons: 1,158
Slash Line: .283/.356/.471
Home Runs: 167
Accolades: Rookie of the Year, 1x Gold Glove, 8x All-Star
Games over first 10 full MLB seasons: 1,215
Slash Line: .276/.360/.500
Home Runs: 242
Accolades: 3x NL MVP, 8x All-Star, 1x World Series
Games over first 10 full MLB seasons: 1,260
Slash Line: .304/.340/.480
Home Runs: 171
Accolades: 1x AL MVP, 9x All-Star, 9x Gold Glove
Games over first 10 full MLB seasons: 1,372
Slash Line: .322/.389/.579
Home Runs: 346
Accolades: Rookie of the Year, 10x All-Star, 10x Silver Slugger