There are many talented people in the world, but far fewer have talent and a wonderful personal style like that of Bobby Murcer, who died yesterday in Kansas City, Missouri. We can learn something about business in this great ballplayer.
Bobby Murcer was the primary star for the NY Yankees when I started following the team from 1969 through 1973. Those were lean years for the Yankees, but Bobby Murcer played well with a consistency that for me was always impressive. He won many games with either his hitting or excellent fielding.
Most impressive to me was that Bobby Murcer came up being compared to Mickey Mantle, and he handled that pressure so well. Both Murcer and Mantle had been shortstops converted to the outfield, both were from Oklahoma, both were discovered by the same scout and both were NY Yankees.
Bobby Murcer didn’t have the power of Mickey Mantle, but he didn’t let the comparisons bother him. He was a good hitter and he had many great days – especially 1971 when he batted .331 and was second in the league in hitting. Yet most importantly he always played with the highest level of professionalism befitting a great Yankee.
As a kid watching on Channel 11 or listening on the radio to stations in NY, Cleveland, Boston or whereever I could pick it up in the evening, his actions made a profound impact on my life.
The core of the man was shown in 1979 when a plane crash took the life of Thurman Munson, star catcher for the Yankees, and Bobby Murcer was asked to give the eulogy. He did, after staying up all night with Thurman Munson’s wife Diana. He delivered a wonderful eulogy before the next ballgame.
“We all flew back to Yankee Stadium for a game against Baltimore,” Murcer told The New York Times. “None of us wanted to play, but we did, and I batted in all five runs and we won, 5-4. I never used that bat again. I sent it to Diana.”
He played over the objection of the manager who thought he’d be too tired. Bobby Murcer had talent AND class, and he will continue to be an inspiration.
Listen to the Yankees:
“The way he handled himself,” Mariano Rivera said, “he was the best example we could have.”
“Bobby went out of his way to be nice,” Derek Jeter said, “He’s one of the most positive people you’d ever meet. Ever since I first came up, you always looked forward to seeing him.”
“He had an aura about him,” said Jason Giambi. “He was that type of guy that never seemed to have a bad day.”
“He was a gutty player with a lot of determination and strong will and a lot of love for his teammates,” said trainer Gene Monahan. “He took time [with the young kids] and explained things to them, even things as simple as how to dress, how to act on road trips, how to treat clubhouse guys, how to be kind to the cab drivers and bus drivers, people who were there to serve you, what it meant to be a big leaguer.”
The lesson for business? Let’s not forget to consider personal style in hiring decisions.
Recently I’ve been helping several clients find employees for different jobs. We’ve found plenty of people with talent, but not all have the intangible factors of sincerity, humbleness and “class”. Sometimes we just shake our head regarding the way some people behave.
Professionalism matters. Business is a big league, too. Why not ask for these qualities in the people we chose to work with?
Few people have the style and class of Bobby Murcer, or Tim Russert who also died recently. But there is a happy middle ground, and I think we should look for it in the people we choose to hire and work with. In the long run, it makes for better marketing and better business.
Thank you Bobby.