- 62 years old
- Born May 20, 1946
- Died Jul 12, 2008
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
After coming up briefly to the Yankees in 1965 and 1966 amid high expectations—he was hailed as the "next Mickey Mantle"--Murcer fulfilled his military obligation in 1967 and 1968 before being called up to the majors to stay in 1969.
A left-handed hitter, Murcer had a career .277 batting average, finishing with 252 home runs and 1,043 RBIs. He hit .301 with runners on third base. He was only the third New York Yankee (after Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle) to earn $100,000 per season, and at 26 years of age was the youngest American League player to earn a six-figure salary. Murcer made the All-Star teams from 1971 through 1974 in the American League, and in 1975 in the National League. He also won a Gold Glove in 1972.
He was noted for excelling at the delayed steal in which, as the catcher catches the ball or is about to throw the ball back to the pitcher, the runner on first base breaks for second base. The thought is that the second baseman and shortstop will be back on their heels and slow to cover the bag. After working with Mickey Mantle, he was also known as an excellent drag bunter.
At his retirement, Murcer's 252 career home runs were tied for 72nd place on the all-time home run list, and his 175 home runs as a Yankee put him 11th on the club's career list. At his death, Murcer was tied for 183rd on the all-time list.
Against Hall of Fame pitchers, Murcer hit .291 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs in 447 at bats. If Tommy John and Bert Blyleven (both possible Hall of Famers) are inducted, Murcer's numbers total 553 at bats with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .297 average, seemingly stellar numbers versus an elite group of pitchers.
In the 1970s, Murcer drove in 840 runs, the 9th most in the major leagues during that span. Murcer's 119 outfield assists led all major league outfielders for that decade, ahead of Bobby Bonds (106), Rusty Staub (97), Amos Otis (93), Reggie Smith (86), Jose Cardenal (85), Del Unser (82), and Reggie Jackson (81). His 198 homers tied for 17th in the major leagues for the 1970s, and his .282 batting average was 20th among all players who had 5,000 or more plate appearances. During the 1970s, he led his club in home runs six times (1970, 71, 72, 73, 76, 77).
In MLB history only 24 players hit above .275 while also hitting 250 or more home runs, driving in more than 1,000 runs, and stealing more than 125 bases and totaling 45 or more triples. Among that elite group only Murcer, George Brett, and Rogers Hornsby struck out fewer than 1,000 times.