Thurman Munson was a leader on and off the field and 40 years after his untimely death his legacy is constantly remembered. Tuesday night at Chelsea Piers, the annual Thurman Munson Awards dinner continued to live that legacy.
This annual event raises money to support the AHRC New York City Foundation. The organization assists children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I am most proud of the money we raised ,” said Diana Munson . “To be a part of it has meant a lot to my family.”
Widow of Thurman Munson, the Yankees Captain and catcher, has also kept that legacy going with the Thurman Munson Award. Professional and Olympic athletes are recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the community.
“It’s truly a tremendous honor,” J.D. Davis said.
The Mets outfielder and third baseman was honored along with Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres, former Yankees outfielder and manager Lou Piniella, former Mets captain John Franco ,and Nancy Lieberman of basketball fame.
They all spoke about Munson. A week or so after the untimely death of Kobe Bryant, they also did not forget his legacy.
So this was not only about baseball and basketball. Over the years, those who have been honored at this event have been role models. They have exemplified the good character and dedication of Thurman Munson.
“I was a 90’s baby, unfortunately, I never saw him play,” Davis said. “But when I got the call that I was being honored, I knew who he was. How big of an icon he was in New York. I was pretty humbled by it.”
Davis, may not become that icon, but has those qualities to exemplify all the Thurman Munson attributes do fit his character.
Last season, he had that breakout year with the Mets and has adopted New York City as that second home. Davis, this off-season, made several trips to New York from his home in California for charitable events.
Quickly, Davis, has adapted to playing ball in this town.
There is the understanding of that significance of being in the spotlight and playing baseball in New York. Thurman Munson, when he donned the Yankees pinstripes also knew that giving back to the community was important.
So, J.D. Davis, along with the others are not recipients of this award because of their name. They are special and are doing something significant as athletes here.
More than baseball or other sports they play for a living, It’s being role models off the field.
Of course, baseball was the talk and prior to the speeches and recipients getting the Munson honor. There was no talk about the recent baseball scandal, no discussion about the Mets ownership change that is in jeopardy.
Though, Piniella, always a good piece for conversation, did say that technology was good for baseball.
And for J.D. Davis, this could be the first of many more awards to come. Assume the Mets provide that opportunity for Davis, to be a vital cog in their plans going forward, helping the community will also be in his plan.
And there is every intention of Davis being in that lineup often, in the outfield or at third base.
He is excited about the upcoming season, and prepared this off-season to get better by watching film. He dropped seven pounds and worked on various ways to get better in the outfield.
“ Reconnected with Luis Rojas,” he said about his new manager, the former quality control coach who was by his side in the dugout last year.
There are those Thurman Munson qualities on the field for J.D. Davis. He has adapted after coming from Houston as the unknown player last season, possibly the best acquisition for Mets GM Brodie Van Wegenen.
“Coming here to New York with these guys, with these teammates and coaches, showing your personality showing you a little bit of flair, playing the game right,” he said.
He got that right. Because, in New York, playing here is about doing the right thing and also being a part of the community. We always saw that in Thurman Munson.
And the best way to have fun, as Munson always said, was win ball games. The Mets won 86 games last year and made a postseason push in the second half.
Davis, and the Mets are anticipated to win ball games this coming season. They also don’t know what to expect from Yeonis Cespedes with a contract that was restructured and coming off surgery.
And then there is this part about J.D. Davis, that talk of getting better. He reminds you so much about the qualities of Thurman Munson.
“Little ways, better at bats,” he said. “Taking notes about failures and what I’ve learned.”
Sounds a lot like Thurman Munson.
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