New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: M

Thurman Munson

Thurman Munson (Baseball. Born, Akron, OH, June 7, 1947; died, Canton, OH, Aug. 2, 1979.) Thurman Lee Munson had a testy relationship with writers covering the Yankees, particularly over the last five years of his career, because he felt he was unduly criticized. His feud with teammate Reggie Jackson is legendary. But Munson was the Yankees’ first captain since Lou Gehrig and backstopped the Yankees to three consecutive A.L. pennants. Munson was A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1970 (when he hit .302) and the A.L. M.V.P. in 1976 (when he again hit .302). His most productive years were 1975-77, when he batted at least .300 each year and drove in over 100 runs, the first major leaguer to do so since Bill White of St. Louis (1962-64) and the first player in the A.L. since Al Rosen (1952-54). Munson was at his best in clutch situations, hitting an eighth-inning two-run 450-homer off Kansas City pitcher Doug Bird to win the pivotal third game of the 1978 A.L.C.S., 6-5, and batting .529 in the 1976 World Series with nine hits in four games. Munson was a more than adequate catcher despite injuries that particularly affected his throwing. He died tragically when the plane he was piloting crashed about 1,000 feet short of the runway. Two passengers survived the crash. During his 11-year career (1969-79), Munson hit .292 with 113 homers and 701 r.b.i. He hit .339 in 14 A.L.C.S. games and .373 (third-highest ever) in 16 World Series games.

Van Lingle Mungo

Van Lingle Mungo (Baseball. Born, Pageland, SC, June 8, 1911; died, Pageland, SC, Feb. 12, 1985.) High-kicking, hard-throwing, and sometimes hard-drinking, righthander Van Lingle Mungo twice won 18 games (1934 and 1936) for bad Brooklyn teams. But Mungo’s temper and off-field escapades sometimes created more headlines than his pitching, although he once struck out seven in a row, matching what was then the big league record (vs. Cincinnati, June 25, 1936). Mungo also led the N.L. in strikeouts that season (238). He joined the Dodgers Sept. 9, 1931, and shut out Boston on two hits that day (he also doubled and tripled, driving in both runs). Mungo was 102-99 in his Dodgers career (1931-40) but only 1-0 in 1940. Before he could launch his announced “comeback” in 1941, he approached a dancer at a Havana hotel in spring training while somewhat drunk. The dancer’s husband objected to the unwanted attentions and fisticuffs ensued. Mungo wound up on the Dodgers’ Montreal farm club and was released, signing with the Giants. Mungo was 14-7 with the 1945 Giants but then was released as World War II ended, bringing home a flood of younger (and less troublesome) talent. In a career that ended at age 34, Mungo was 120-115 (18-16 with the Giants in 1942-43, 1945).

Jerry Mumphrey

Jerry Mumphrey (Baseball. Born, Tyler, TX, Sept. 9, 1952.) His time with the Yankees was relatively brief, but switch-hitting outfielder Jerry Wayne Mumphrey had the season of his 14-year career (1974-87) in helping them win the 1981 A.L. pennant. Mumphrey hit a career-high .307 in 80 games that strike-shortened season and then hit .500 (six hits) in the A.L.C.S. He batted .300 in 123 games the following year but was traded midway through the 1983 season to Houston. For his career, Mumphrey hit .291 in 1,522 games with 70 homers.

Willard Mullin

Willard Mullin (Cartoonist. Born, Franklin, OH, Sept, 14, 1902; died, Corpus Christi, TX, Dec. 21, 1978.) Rarely has the combination of erudition and artistic skill that was Willard Mullin been brought to bear on the comic possibilities of sports. Although he certainly had his serious side and created some deeply poignant drawings, the bulk of Mullin’s work was humorous. With a knack for fractured Latin and/or English syntax that made his characters both unique and amusing, Mullin poured out oversized drawings six days a week from 1934-67 for the New York World-Telegram. During his fabulous career, Mullin produced more than 10,000 daily drawings, usually based on local happenings from the previous day’s events. Mullin also drew hundreds of illustrations for The Sporting News (and its associated publications), Life magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek. In 1969, when the Mets won the National League pennant, Time commissioned Mullin to draw a special cover. He created many characters, including the Brooklyn “Bum” and the “Baby Met” cover for the 1962 Mets yearbook.

Chris Mullin

Chris Mullin (College basketball. Born, New York, NY, Aug. 30, 1963.) Few college basketball players have ever generated as much excitement among New York fans or won as many honors as Chris Mullin did with the St. John’s Redmen from 1981 to 1985. During that span, the Redmen won a Big East championship and made a trip to the Final Four. Mullin was the M.V.P. in virtually every tournament in which he appeared, and at his graduation in 1985, he held 11 major season and career records for the Redmen. Mullin came out of Xaverian H.S., where he averaged 30 points a game as a senior. He stepped immediately into the starting lineup at St. John’s. In his freshman year he averaged 16.6 points as the Redmen finished 21-9 and earned a berth in the N.C.A.A. tournament. In 1982-83, St. John’s won the Big East championship with a 28-5 record as Mullin averaged 19.1 points per game. The next season, his average moved to a career-high 22.9 and as a senior in 1984-85, Mullin led the Redmen to the N.C.A.A. Final Four as the team finished 31-4. That year, he averaged 19.8 per game. For his 125-game career, Mullin scored 2,440 points (19.5 per game), collected 509 rebounds, and helped the Redmen to a 98-30 record. He was subsequently drafted by the Golden State Warriors and went on to a 16-year career in the N.B.A., during which he averaged 18.2 points per game.  He was Golden State’s general manager for five years (2004-09).

Kirk Muller

Kirk Muller (Hockey. Born, Kingston, Ont., Feb. 8, 1966.) Three of the first four times the Devils’ team M.V.P. award was presented, it was won by left wing Kirk C. Muller (1985, 1987, 1988). Muller was among the best of the early Devils who played for the franchise after its relocation to New Jersey from Colorado in June 1982. He was a No. 1 choice (second overall behind Mario Lemieux) by the team in 1984 after two superb junior seasons at Guelph (Ont.), although his selection at the time was considered something of a booby prize. The Devils and Pittsburgh were the league’s two worst teams in 1993-84 (finishing with 41 and 38 points, respectively) and there was speculation that Pittsburgh, especially, was not trying to win in order to secure Lemieux with the first overall pick. Muller played seven seasons for the Devils (1984-91) before being dealt to Montreal Sept. 20, 1991, in a trade that brought high-scoring Stephane Richer to New Jersey. In those seven seasons, Muller scored 185 goals and collected 335 assists with five more playoff goals (four in 1988). His career goal total was then the second-highest in Devils history. Muller represented the team in the N.H.L. All-Star game from 1985-88 and in 1990. His 520 regular-season points were a team record John MacLean surpassed Dec. 28, 1993. Montreal sent Muller to the Islanders Apr. 5, 1995, but he played only 27 games (7-8—15) before being sent to Toronto. Muller later played for Florida and Dallas. During his Devils years, he served as the team’s third captain, following Mel Bridgman June 18, 1987, holding the “C” until his trade to Montreal. Muller’s captaincy, naturally, led to the nickname “Captain Kirk.”

Kit Mueller

Kit Mueller (College basketball. Born, Downers Grove, IL, May 8, 1969.) Second only to Bill Bradley in the pantheon of Princeton basketball scorers, Christopher Mueller (pronounced “Miller”) was a superb all-around player who, as a 6’7” center, finished his career second on the school’s assist list (381). He was also the top rebounder on a team that won the Ivy League title each of his last three years. Mueller scored 1,546 points in 107 career games but it was a shot he didn’t make that was perhaps the most famous. In the first round of the 1989 N.C.A.A. tournament at Providence, R.I., Mueller appeared clearly to have been fouled while taking the last shot of the game. However, no call was made and Princeton, the No. 16 seed in the East Region, lost to No. 1 East seed Georgetown, 50-49.

Don Mueller

Don Mueller (Baseball. Born, St. Louis, MO, Apr. 14, 1927; died, St. Louis, MO, Dec. 28, 2011.) Known to his teammates as “Mandrake the Magician” for his skill in handling the bat, Donald Fred Mueller was a lefthand choke-up hitter who was key to the Giants’ 1951 and 1954 N.L. pennant winners. Mueller had an uncanny ability to find holes in the defense with grounders, soft liners or even popups that often seemed to drop just out of a fielder’s reach. Though not a power hitter, he once hit five homers in two days against Brooklyn (1951). Mueller came to the Giants to stay as the regular rightfielder in 1950, when he hit .291. In the fabled third game of the 1951 pennant playoff between the Giants and Dodgers, he singled with one on and went to third on Whitey Lockman’s double. Mueller broke his ankle sliding into third and was carried off while Ralph Branca came on in relief for Brooklyn. Branca’s second pitch was hit for the game-winning homer by Bobby Thomson. In 1954, Mueller was in the eye of a clubhouse controversy as he battled Brooklyn’s Duke Snider and his teammate Willie Mays for the N.L. batting title. Giants manager Leo Durocher was openly rooting for Mays (who won, .345 to .342, with Snider at .341). Mueller hit .389 with seven hits in the Giants’ four-game sweep of Cleveland in that year’s World Series. He batted .333 in 1953 and .306 in 1955 but spent the final two years of his career (1958-59) with the Chicago White Sox. Mueller was a .296 lifetime hitter.

Dana Mozley

Dana Mozley (Sportswriter. Born, Lowell, MA, June 4, 1916; died, New Britain, CT, Jan. 6, 1995.) An influential figure in local golf, Dana Oliver Mozley was on the sports staff of the Daily News for 38 years. Mozley worked at the Lowell (Mass.) Courier-Citizen briefly after his graduation from Colgate. He joined the Daily News part-time in 1937 and full-time two years later. Mozley returned to the News after three-year (1942-45) hitch during World War II and by 1948 was a regular on the golf beat. In 1953, he founded the Ike Championship (named for then-president Dwight Eisenhower, Allied Supreme Commander in Europe during the war). The Ike was a News promotion for local amateur golfers that grew to more than 700 annual participants before the News stopped sponsoring it in the 1970s. It has subsequently been revived in a modified form by the Metropolitan Golf Association. Mozley was also active in the Golf Writers Association of America, serving as its president, a member of its board of directors, and on its Hall of Fame committee. He covered the national tennis championships at Forest Hills, as well as track and field and Rangers hockey regularly before retiring in January 1980. Mozley was characteristically a natty dresser in the country club blazer-and-tie style who stood out among his drab confreres in their blue, gray, or brown suits.

Willie Mosconi

Willie Mosconi (Billiards. Born, Philadelphia, PA, June 27, 1913; died, Haddon Heights, NJ, Sept. 16, 1993.) Seldom, if ever, has one individual dominated a sport the way Willie Mosconi dominated pocket billiards for the better part of 20 years. Mosconi was a gifted player even as a youngster. He began giving pocket billiards exhibitions when he was seven years old. He won his first world title in 1940. Then came a series of tournaments in which Mosconi repeatedly turned back every challenge as he won again in 1942, 1943, and 1946. After World War II, many observers expected Mosconi to be defeated because an upsurge in interest in billiards had drawn more competition into the sport. But they were wrong. Mosconi not only turned back all challenges in 1946 and 1950, but by 1955 (when he again swept through the tournament), he was left with virtually no competition. Mosconi retired in 1957. He periodically returned for exhibitions. In 1974, at the age of 60, he toured across the country playing against Rex Williams, the British world champion snooker player.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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