JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

RIP—Bobby Murcer

Was saddened by the news of Bobby Murcer‘s passing earlier today from cancer. In America, most people either:

A. Remember Murcer as the excellent Yankee outfielder and announcer.

B. Have never hard of him.

I, however, had a very unique experience with the man; one I’ll never forget.

On June 4, 2000 I was sent by Sports Illustrated to cover the Yankees-Braves series in Atlanta. This would be my first exposure to the Braves since the whole John Rocker mess, and I was—to be 100% honest—awfully nervous.

Well, as was widely reported, Rocker lit into my beneath the stadium in a hallway, threatening to kick my ass and repeatedly jabbing his finger into my chest. By the time the tirade ceased, I was truly shaken. This was my first MLB confrontation of any magnitude, and I was ill prepared.

Out of nowhere, I heard someone say from behind, “Hey, are you OK?” And there he was—Bobby Murcer. Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But as everyone else sort of backed away from my suddenly toxic radius, Murcer immediately checked to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack. It was the first time we’d ever met—and years later I had the chance to tell him how much his actions had meant to me.

“Oh,” he said. “That was nothing.”

Maybe. But to me, it was something.

Something I’ll never forget.