Coming into the 1979 season the two time defending champs were again favored to win it all. The Yankees, winners of 3 consecutive AL Pennants were in the middle of a great run...or so they thought. 1979 started out as one of those years where the Bombers looked flat. They were so flat that by June 17th they were sitting at 34-31, just 3 games over .500. Owner George Steinbrenner was not about to sit back and see his season go down the tubes, so he fired the steady Bob Lemon and brought the fiery Billy Martin back for his second tour of duty. Billy got the team to eventually play better, but better wasn't good enough because the O's were running away with the division. On Wednesday August 1st the Bombers beat the Chisox soundly (9-1) for their 3rd consecutive win. That modest winning streak left them 14 games back with two months left to play. The following day would provide a much needed rest day for the aging Bombers to recoup their strength and hopefully begin a magically run like the one that won them the pennant the previous year after being out by 14 games. Most folks wrote the team off as too old and too far back. On August 2nd the Yankees season officially ended when word came across the wires that their captain, Thurman Munson, died in a plane crash in Akron Ohio while practicing landing his new jet plane. To say that Munson was the heart and soul of the franchise would be an understatement. Munson, who fought bad knees and numerous other injuries all season battled to stay in the lineup. Martin would DH him, play in in Right Field and even put him at first base, just to have him out there. The one true highlight of the season, on the field, happened 4 days later on Monday August 6th. On that day the Yankee family flew to Ohio to burry their captain. Recently re-acquired Bobby Murcer provided the eulogy, and hours later in a home game against the division leading O's he knocked in all 5 Yankee runs to lead an improbable comeback (down 4-0) on what was one of the most emotional nights in the newly renovated stadium. Murcer's surreal heroics added to the mystique and aura that this franchise possesses. By late September the Bombers fought hard to not finish 20 games back. An 8 game winning streak to end the season gave them sole possession of 4th place, 13 1/2 games behind the O's. 1979 was a major setback for the franchise, which meant that there would be big changes next season and lots of Steinbrenner cash would be spent.
Editor’s Notes: Tony supplied most of the photos for the Yankee team set. Brad Gulden, Paul MIrabella and Darryl Jones were colorizations I created off B&W photos. I found the a Roy Staiger minor league card and airbrushed the cap and the chest logo to make him a Yankee. The Rick Anderson was a Jackson Mets farm team card that I airbrushed. Once the 1979 & 1980 Yankee Yearbooks arrive I will make some updates. I’m not happy with the George Scott photo, which came from his 1980 card and was a very poor airbrush job from the boys at 1 Whitehall St. The Tommy John and Juan Beniquez cards came from the mid season Burger King mini-sets, which were giveaways from the home of the Whopper in the NY Metro area.