Charles Munson played on the first National Champion team in any Longhorn Sport
Charlie Munson, 95, is as much a fixture at Disch-Falk Field as bitter cold and oppressive heat (sometimes on the same day), as deeply identified with the University of Texas as success and Smokey.
Munson started the baseball season as the 1943 Longhorns’ varsity left fielder, but that didn’t last long … one game, in fact, before he was called up as a cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He reached lieutenant in rank, serving among other places in Deming, N.M., and Austin’s Bergstrom Field while training as a pilot; while in Austin, he played city-league basketball and semi-pro baseball.
He returned to UT for the 1946-47 school year, joining the Longhorns “B” team in basketball and stepping right into the starting lineup as an outfielder on the baseball team. Munson’s best varsity season turned out to be his first full one, 1947, when he batted .333 in the regular season, then went 5 for 7 in two NCAA tournament games in Denver. In 1948, he batted .275 in SWC games and remained an outfield starter. Relegated to part-time starter and pinch-hitter roles as a senior, he still contributed six doubles among his nine hits.
And, rather unwittingly, he became a sort of poster child for Bibb Falk’s anti-NCAA tournament argument. In his May 27, 1949, “Sideline Slants” column on the topic, Paul Tracy of the Austin Statesman used Munson as an example of a player who would be harmed by reforming the team a month after school ended:
“Many (players) start semi-pro ball on June 1, and must take time out from wage-earning to participate. It’s hard, for example, for Charley Munson, who is expecting an addition to the family soon, to leave his $10-a-day camp counselor job for 10 days.”
That addition, born Aug. 27, turned out to be Charles Jr., known as Chuck, who went on to create his own UT legacy, joining Ben Crenshaw and McCallum High teammate Tom Kite on back-to-back NCAA champion Longhorns golf teams. As for his summer job, missing it for a few days turned out to be well worth it.
“Back then, when we won it, we didn't really realize what we were a part of,” Munson told the UT sports-information department in November 2008 upon his induction into the Longhorn Hall of Honor. “But it is a real honor to be on the first team, because since then the baseball team has won five other championships.
"Back in the early days of the Southwest Conference, the main school you wanted to play baseball at was Texas. That is still often the case. Athletics have always been a strong suit at Texas. The program has a lot of players playing professionally and they are very balanced in all the different sports.”
In retirement, Munson began volunteering as an usher at Longhorns football, basketball and baseball games. And despite the death of his wife of 70 years, Dorothy, last April, expect to see Charlie Munson in the Disch-Falk stands again this spring.
“Seeing all these athletes that have come through the … years that I have been volunteering makes me feel very honored to be a part of Texas athletics,” he said in 2008. “I have so many good memories of my time here at Texas, it’s hard to explain all of them.”