I had the honor of being invited to Tuesday’s annual Thurman Munson dinner, held at the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street in Manhattan. It was a great evening. The dinner raised over $500,000 for AHRC, a New York-based organization that helps people and organziations with intellectual disabilities.
The big news out of the night, from the press conference before the game, was that New York Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, one of the honorees of the event, would not be playing in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic, but would show up at spring training this week instead. (Sanchez was rocking wearing a beard, by the way, which he was going to be getting rid of very soon!)
Other people honored included Yankee legends Graig Nettles and Bucky Dent, the Mets’ Wilmer Flores, and the Giants’ Victor Cruz.
During the dinner, Roy White, who introduced Nettles, said that he was the best third baseman in Yankee history and should be the next player honored in Monument Park. A-Rod who?
I do think Nettles should be honored, though. He certainly was just as valuable to the franchise as Willie Randolph, Tino Martinez, and Jorge Posada were. Plus, his Number 9 is already retired for Roger Maris. Why not honor Nettles with it?
Some other fun tidbits:
- When I arrived at the event, I walked in right near Nettles and his wife, Ginger. I later got to talk to Nettles and ask him if anything was planned for the 40th anniversary of the 1977 championship. He said nothing yet so far, but he thought there would be something done at Old Timers’ Day. I also asked him about the miniseries “The Bronx Is Burning,” and he said it was “90 percent accurate” and enjoyed the series.
- I asked Bucky Dent about the Patriots Super Bowl victory two days before, and if he saw any comparisons with the 1978 Yankees. He said he actually mentioned this at the hot stove dinner that Jerry Narron had the night before, and that “the Patriots reminded” him of that team because of their “determination to not get beat.”
- While Sanchez used an interpreter when he was interviewed, he smiled and apparently understood what I said when I saw him sitting down and thanked him for helping me win my baseball fantasy league this season!
- Victor Cruz told reporters that he knew the Patriots would win the Super Bowl after the Julian Edelman catch, as that big games turn momentum on things like that. Makes sense.
- I also got to talk to Cruz about him growing up in Paterson, New Jersey (a stone’s throw from Passaic, NJ, where I grew up!) and how the town shaped him and made him who he is. In addition, I noticed that he stayed longer than anybody else in the interview room to make sure every reporter got what they needed. He is very well spoken, and I’m pretty sure he will have a great career on a network NFL pre-game show in the future.
- I was in the lobby when emcee Michael Kay arrived. He checked in and said who he was, and I said that everybody knows who he is. He disagreed, saying that he couldn’t assume that! Heh. He is very tall (my standard of tall is whether I am impressed by their height. After all, I’m six feet tall and often the tallest person in the room myself!
Thanks for the invite to the dinner. Glad it was such a success.