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Thurman Munson died 40 years ago today

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A sad anniversary today: on August 2, 1979, Yankees captain, 1970 Rookie of the Year, 1976 AL MVP and two-time World Series champion Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash.

Munson was a private pilot with around two years experience at the time. His interest in aviation was two-fold: for its own sake and enjoyment and so he could more readily visit his family in Ohio on his days off.  At the time of the crash he was near his Canton, Ohio home while practicing touch-and-gos at the Akron-Canton airport on, yes, a Yankees day off. On his final approach the plane was too low, clipped trees and crashed over 800 feet short of the runway. The specific details of the crash and its personal and legal aftermath were reported by the New York Times last year after legal records were uncovered.

The day after the crash the Yankees held an emotional tribute before their game against the Orioles. On August 6, the entire team attended Munson’s funeral in Ohio. Munson’s number 15 was retired and a plaque in his memory was placed in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium. It bears the inscription, “Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next . . . Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.”

Munson’s loss was a major one that Yankees fans and those in and around the Yankees organization, then and now, still feel sharply. Those 1970s Yankees teams were bold, brash, colorful and, for a good while, dominant, and Munson, along with Reggie Jackson, was perhaps the most visible and important figure in the organization. Many who were there at the time argue, pretty convincingly, that he was, by himself, the most important figure. The Yankees would remain contenders for several years after his death, but an argument could be made that they never truly recovered from it until the 1990s dynasty was born.

A great biography of Munson, written by Jimmy Keenan and Frank Russo, can be read over at the Society for American Baseball Research. Check it out.

MLB and MLBPA announce first set of COVID-19 test results

MLB COVID-19 test results
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On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.

There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.

Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.

Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.