NEW YORK -- Yankees legend Thurman Munson has been gone for more than 40 years, but his legacy remains as strong as ever. That was evident Tuesday night in a virtual setting.
The Thurman Munson Awards were given out to Yankees teammates Gio Urshela and Luke Voit during the 41st annual event. Mets outfielder Michael Conforto, Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, Pro Football Hall of Famer Harry Carson and U.S. women’s soccer national team goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher also were honored.
Diana Munson, widow of the former Yankees catcher, did not participate because of COVID-19 precautions. It was only the second ceremony she missed. She has been involved with the Munson Awards since 1980, a year after her husband died in a plane crash at age 32.
The Thurman Munson Awards are given to professional and Olympic athletes in recognition of their athletic achievements and contributions to the community. The event raises money to benefit the AHRC New York City Foundation and to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Voit, who led the Major Leagues in 22 home runs last year. “There are a lot of guys on our current team that have done great things in our society. It’s what Thurman Munson wanted, and it’s what we are in pinstripes.
“… It’s an awesome award. I didn’t know I was getting it. It’s an unbelievable thing. There are a lot of past Yankees who have done amazing things.”
Urshela makes an impact visiting hospitalized children.
“Gio is a sweet, dedicated person who really wants to do things. I could tell that immediately," said David Jurist, who has been involved with Hackensack University Medical Center for more than 40 years. "To see the effect that it has on a patient that's going through chemo or a teenager that's depressed, it's amazing, like a miracle.
“People like Gio will stay with somebody for 15-20 minutes. They don't come in and just say hello and give an autograph. It lights people up, and it stays with them."
Carson, a legend with the New York Giants, began his NFL career in 1976, when Munson was an active player and the American League Most Valuable player. Munson and Carson never met, but Carson is aware of Munson’s legacy on and off the field.
“I was a young kid when we lost Thurman Munson. I knew all about him because he was the captain of the Yankees,” Carson said. “I went on to become captain of the Giants. I wanted to mold my captainship much in the way that Thurman was just being a leader. To be recognized and honored this evening is quite flattering.”
Rodriguez was an active player from 1991-2011, mostly with the Rangers. But he played for the Yankees in 2008 and knows Munson’s place in baseball history.
“He was amazing human being on and off the field,” Rodriguez said. “At the age of 49, to receive this award is an honor. It’s a great honor for me.”