Thunder Matt Murton, 2005-2008

We're gathered here today to remember Matthew Henry "Thunder" Murton. He was a good man and an immense talent who never really got a fair shot in his 3+ years with the Chicago Cubs. His on-field accomplishments were often times overshadowed by his uncommonly red mane, of which he inherited from his father, The Sun.

Thunder Matt walked quietly with the Lord and carried a big stick. He played the game the right way. He's the kind of player that sick Little Billy in the hospital could look up to. Little Billy would (theoretically) ask Thunder to hit him a home run and Thunder would tussle Little Billy's hair, smile and say 'sure kid.' The next day, Thunder would (theoretically) hit a ground rule double. Much like his Cubs career, close but no cigar.

I'll never forget the time that myself and Tommy Buzanis met Thunder Matt at the Cubs Media Social. Friday, January 19, 2007 will live in infamy, both in Saloon lore and his Murton's life I'm sure. What a glorious day. We told him about the Saloon, and I handed him my business card with the website info scribbled on the back. You masked your disinterest well my friend. I'll always remember him stopping me and Tommy short during our drunken pep talk to utter the infamous words, "I thought I just saw Juan Pierre", only to have the Juan Pierre doppelganger turn out to be Len Kasper. Or maybe it was Dwight Smith. Awww shit, you know.

Much as Thunder Matt has continued to move forward, so will this site. That's how Thunder would want it. We will continue to follow the career of our namesake, while also providing you the spotty Cubs coverage that you've come to expect from TMS. We will also remain the home for drunk diaries, condiment commentary and esoteric non sequiturs. With that, I turn the floor over to some of the other bartenders, who would like to say a few words about Thunder.

Daft Funk: Thunder Matt was a good baseball player and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outfield...and bowling, and as an outfielder he explored the right fields of the National League, from Wrigley to Coors Field and...up to...Pittsburgh. He was traded, like so many young men of his generation, he was traded before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Thunder Matt. Thunder, who loved baseball. And so, Matthew Henry "Thunder" Murton, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of Oakland, which you loved so well.

Good night, sweet prince.

The Hundley: Thunder Matt, I'll never forget when you were called up for your first time. It was you and that guy that got beaned in the head in his first and only career at-bat. Much like a heroic soldier falling on a grenade to save his comrades, you accepted a trade to Oakland, thus allowing us our best chance at a World Series in years. As a testament to how much I adored you, the only chant I ever attempted to incite at Wrigley Field was "THUNDER MATT!" I hope Billy Beane uses you well. Will you still sign Slumpbuster for us?

Lingering Bursitis: Matt Murton, you underwhelmed us all with your tidy production and general competency in this, the era of new stats and number-based nerditry. May you enjoy several pitches-per-at-bat in Oakland or wherever else your career may lead.

Dave Thomas:

Thunder Matt plays on
Wearing bright the green and gold
With a heart, true blue

Governor Gray Davis: I never knew Thunder Matt as a player, but as a table he was sturdy, clean and reliable, both legs the same length.

Tommy Buzanis: I first met Thunder at an N.I.T. basketball game in Charleston in 1986. He ate his cotton candy patiently and meticulously. He was not gluttonous - like a Native American devouring the heart of a buffalo, Thunder paid respect with each bite. I studied Thunder closely that day, so much so that security took notice and forcibly removed me from the arena. As I was led out and tears poured down my sunburned face I had a premonition. I envisioned a red-headed ball player working deep counts with a closed stance that screamed "I can get around on the inside heat and if I can't I will certainly foul off a couple of your best pitches!"

I think my good friend Bruce Springsteen said it best in his epic song "Thunder Road":

Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh Thunder (Matt), oh Thunder (Matt)
Oh Thunder (Matt)

Brant Brown: Dearest Matthew. Has it really been three years already since you first graced Wrigley Field with your presence? My how those summer days seem to have slipped away like so many old friends and lovers. We've known for quite a while now that the Cubs had no place for our fair Thunder. Long has Oakland been speculated upon as a possible destination for his services. Today, the dream has come to fruition. We blame not James Hendry, for he has long stated his desire to place Thunder in a more fitting situation, allowing for his career to blossom as we all know it will. With a kiss on the forehead, and a gentle, approving pat on the ass, we bid you farewell and good luck Matthew.

Chip Wesley: A year ago I would've been screaming "NO! It isn't fair!" But now I feel like I'm saying good bye to an elderly family member with a terminal illness. It was for the best, he's in a better place now. Godspeed Mr. Murton. I'll never forget your 20 home runs for our ballclub. But now it's time to bring the Thunder to Oaktown. Show the Bay Area what you're all about and don't let people say you look like a leprechaun when you're wearing the green uni.

We will give you the Mark Grace salute and slam an Old Style in your honor, then another right after that, assuming you approve. Fear not for our humble web log Thunder. It will retain your name, spirit, and prowess until our dying days. Thunder Matt, our nation salutes you!

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