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Squatty's son proposes before father's memorial

7/10/2004 - New York Yankees

NEW YORK -- Michael Munson wanted his late father to be a
part of this moment. So he knelt down with the ring right there at
Yankee Stadium and proposed to his girlfriend, trembling just in
front of his dad's plaque in Monument Park.

Michelle Bruey said yes, one more way to honor former New York
Yankees captain Thurman Munson on an already special day.

"I was really nervous," Michael Munson said. "I wanted her to
get a sense of all this, too, just so she could understand."

The catcher's widow, Diana, was at Yankee Stadium on Saturday to
throw out the first pitch at Old-timers' Day, joined by her three
children and five grandkids.

Nearly 25 years ago, on Aug. 2, 1979, Thurman Munson died in a
plane crash in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, at age 32, cutting
short his All-Star career. His No. 15 was immediately retired by
the Yankees.

One of the most beloved and respected players ever to wear
pinstripes, the fiery Munson won the 1976 AL MVP and helped lead
the Yankees to consecutive World Series titles in '77 and '78.

His memory lives on at Yankee Stadium, where his locker remains
in the clubhouse, unused, right next to current captain Derek Jeter's stall.

"I always said that New Yorkers got Thurman. They understood
him," Diana Munson said. "We don't get here very often, so it's
pretty monumental when we come here. I'm flooded with memories,
lots of good memories -- even the fights he got in."

Now endowed with the same chubby cheeks and stocky build as his
father, Michael Munson, 28, was too young to remember much of his
dad playing for the Yankees. But he's heard plenty of stories and
seen all the old films.

"My favorite memory of Thurman was running from first to third,
chugging along with that body," Diana said. "People said he was
cocky, which he was, but he backed it up."

She called Michael "the most private Munson by far," which
made his public marriage proposal all the more surprising.

"I had no idea," Bruey said, clutching her new engagement
ring. "It's unbelievable."

The Yankees also posthumously honored Hall of Fame pitcher Red
Ruffing with a plaque in Monument Park before they played the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Ruffing holds the franchise record for wins by a
right-hander with 231. He had four straight 20-win seasons from
1936-39, leading New York to four consecutive World Series
championships.

Ruffing joins Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Ron Guidry and Allie
Reynolds as the only Yankees pitchers with a plaque in Monument
Park.