Murcer's death saddens current Yanks
Team icon's presence resonates with younger generation
TORONTO -- The Yankees played a game on Saturday afternoon, but the result of the game was a distant second to the tragic news of Bobby Murcer's death.
The five-time All-Star and Yankees broadcaster lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 62. He died in Oklahoma City, Okla., with family members by his side.
Following an afternoon game with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Yankees players and staff members stuck around, not to talk about baseball, but to talk about the man whose smile and positive attitude had been a staple at Yankee Stadium for decades.
"He was a great Yankee, but more importantly, he was a great friend to all of us," said a visibly upset Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He cared about the game -- he cared whether we won or lost every day. He wore his emotions on his sleeve -- in the booth and as a player.
"Bobby was just the type of man that I believe got what life was about, and that was making life better for the people around him."
Alex Rodriguez knew of Murcer long before his days in New York. During Rodriguez's tenure in Seattle, he played under Lou Piniella -- one of Murcer's old teammates with the Yankees -- and the veteran skipper had nothing but praise for one of his lifelong friends.
"It's just a reminder for all of us who are in the game, the media and a fan of baseball just how trivial the game can be, just for one day," Rodriguez said. "When you look at a guy like Bobby, it makes time stop a little.
"From Day 1, through all my struggles, he was always there with a smile. He stayed very positive, very uplifting. He's a symbol for what the Yankees stand for -- he's a real champion."
Murcer was a career .277 hitter with 252 home runs and 1,043 RBIs in 1,908 games with the Yankees, Giants and Cubs. He was the only Yankee to play with both Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle and first baseman Don Mattingly.
Mantle remains one of Jason Giambi's favorite players, and he said that Murcer's stories of the Yankees great and their glory days became the pair's strongest bonding point.
"He loved to talk hitting all the time," Giambi said. "He was a great hitter, made a lot of adjustments playing in Yankee Stadium with that short right-field wall, but the biggest thing was the spirit that he had. He was always happy, always had a positive spin on something, whether you were struggling or not. He always was that guy who would come down and root you on."
Those sentiments were echoed by Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
"Ever since I was a young player, any time I did something good, he would always come over and congratulate me," Jeter said. "He always stayed positive, even when you struggled. He was always someone you looked forward to seeing."
Gregor Chisholm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.