Thirty years ago today, the Yankees lost their captain, Thurman Munson, in a plane crash. Munson, the fiery but respected leader of the club, had been piloting his own plane back to Ohio on a day off when he made a series of pilot errors that caused the plane to crash and cost him his own life. He was only 32-years old.

Anyone who saw Munson play will never forget the passion he brought to the game. Thurman wore an orange chest protector, a color that seemed an appropriate match for his demeanor. Simply put, Munson did not take any crap whether it was from his archrival, Carlton Fisk, or his teammate, Reggie Jackson.

But Munson could be counted on when it mattered the most. He hit .357 in his career in the postseason, .373 in the three World Series he played in. He was MVP in 1976 and on his plaque in Monument Park, he is described as “the heart and soul” of the Yankees. In fact, he was the first captain of the Yankees after Lou Gehrig, a tribute to his leadership.

When the plane crashed, Munson asked his friends, “Are you guys okay?” Those were his last words; his friends escaped the plane he did not. The Yankees have retired his number 15 and his stadium locker was never used again. It has since been moved to the new stadium museum a lasting tribute to a man who remains in the hearts of every Yankees’ fan who had the privilege of seeing him play.