Yankees Top Moments: (#2) Chambliss homer wins ALCS vs. (#7) Murcer wins after Munson's funeral

WikiCommons and Jim McIsaac

Two great Yankee moments: the elation of a walk-off to go to the World Series, and the emotion of winning a game on the same day as a beloved teammate's funeral.

The Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament continues with the 1960-1979 period bracket. Vote for the moment that deserves to move on in the poll below.

(#2) Chambliss Homer Wins ALCS



The year was 1976. Wild Cherry's "Play that Funky Music" dominated the airwaves, Marathon Man had people asking, "Is it safe?", and for the first time in a decade, the Yankees were back. From 1921 through 1964, the Yankees won 29 American League Pennants and 20 World Series Championships. After losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1964 World Series, the Yankees endured a decade without October baseball, more than doubling any other playoff drought in the previous 50 years.

After spending a couple years playing home games in Shea Stadium while Yankee Stadium underwent renovations, the Yankees returned to their home park in 1976. Thurman Munson, newly minted team captain and that year's American League MVP, along with Catfish Hunter, Sparky Lyle, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, and Chris Chambliss, helped the Yankees to 97 wins and a double-digit lead in the standings over the second place Orioles.

Chambliss was a key piece to the pennant, but hardly the star of that Yankees team. The All-Star first baseman hit a solid .293 with 17 homers during the regular season, and he saved his best for the five-game series against the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series. Over five games, Chambliss hit .524 with eight RBI, including a key home run in Game 3 that helped the Yankees to a 5-3 win and 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Kansas City came back to win Game 4, and Game 5 was a back and forth affair that saw Kansas City take and give back the lead twice before the Yankees gave up three runs in the eighth on a George Brett homer, causing the game to be knotted at six heading to the bottom of the ninth.

The Yankees needed one run in the ninth to win the game and the series, earning their first World Series appearance in more than a decade. With Mark Littell pitching, Chambliss hit the first pitch he saw and ended the Yankees' AL pennant drought. The only trouble Chambliss encountered came from fans mobbing him as he rounded the bases. Although the Yankees did not win the World Series until the following year, Chambliss' shot has earned its spot in Yankee lore.

(#7) Murcer wins after Munson's funeral


Thurman Munson won three Gold Gloves, made seven All-Star teams, and won the 1976 AL MVP, but on August 6, 1979, the Bronx Bombers were not missing Munson's bat nor his glove. The Yankees were missing a teammate, a friend, a captain, and for many fans, a hero.

On August 2, 1979, Thurman Munson died while practicing flight landings near his home in Ohio. The first Yankee captain since Lou Gehrig, Munson led the Yankees to three straight pennants, including two World Series titles. Only one day after his tragic death, the Yankees began a homestand against the Baltimore Orioles. The game began with eight fielders taking their positions. The area behind the plate remained empty. Only after a moment of silence, "America the Beautiful" and a lengthy ovation did Jerry Narron take the spot behind the plate that had been reserved for Munson for the previous decade.

The entire team attended Munson's funeral on August 6th before heading back to New York for the finale against the Orioles. Not much went right for the Yankees as Ron Guidry gave up two homers and four runs, putting the Yankees down 4-0 through six. A three-run homer by Munson's close friend Bobby Murcer brought the Yankees to within one after seven. The game remained at 4-3 until the ninth when Bucky Dent led off the inning with a walk. An error on a bunt by Randolph put runners on second and third. Up came Murcer, who just hours earlier had delivered Munson's eulogy. Murcer managed to deliver again, knocking a single to left field to drive home Dent and Randolph. Murcer drove in all five runs and honored his dear friend's memory with one of the most memorable games in Yankees history.

Thurman Munson

New York Yankees

June 7, 1947-August 2, 1979

YANKEE CAPTAIN

Our Captain and Leader has not left us-today, tomorrow, this year, next...our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.

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