Another baseball great, and a man responsible for one of the most memorable moments in baseball, died today at the age of 86:
Bobby Thomson, who hit “the shot heard round the world” — an epic home run for the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951, to climax baseball’s most memorable pennant drive — died Monday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 86.
His death was announced by his daughter Megan Thomson Armstrong, who said je he had been in failing health and had recently had a fall.
Memorably described in a play-by-play call by the Giants radio announcer Russ Hodges, Thomson’s homer endures as perhaps the most dramatic play in baseball history, a stirring conclusion to the Giants’ late-summer comeback known as “the miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” and a moment that has since resonated in popular culture.
“I can remember feeling as if time was just frozen,” Thomson once said. “It was a delirious, delicious moment.”
It was the bottom of the ninth inning in the third game of a three-game playoff. The Giants were down by two runs and the count was no balls and one strike. Branca, who had just come into the game, delivered a high fastball to Thomson, perhaps a bit inside. In the radio broadcast booth, Hodges watched the baseball fly off Thomson’s bat.
“There’s a long drive … it’s gonna be … I believe — the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!
“Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant, and they’re going crazy, they’re going crazy …
“I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it, I do not believe it!”
Thomson’s three-run homer propelled the Giants to a 5-4 victory, he and Branca became bonded as baseball’s ultimate hero and goat, and the moment became enshrined in American culture. In 1999, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Thomson’s drive, and Don DeLillo used the baseball he hit as a relic of memory in the acclaimed 1997 novel “Underworld.”
Here’s the video of that legendary home run:
Another great one is gone.
Bill Jempty Update- Here’s another video. At the 0:38 point of the video a young woman is seen clapping. That is my mother. RIP Bobby.
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