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.
He won 20 games for the 1956 Detroit Tigers and once was selected for the All-Star game. RIP.
From Baseball Library- Hoeft was a mainstay in the Tigers starting rotation in the 1950s, then embarked on a second career as an itinerant lefthanded reliever, changing teams six times between 1959 and 1966. He spent most of his rookie season in the Detroit bullpen, then struggled as a starter in 1953-54, winning only 16 games over the two seasons. In 1955 Hoeft was still only Detroit’s third starter in terms of starts and innings, but he led the AL with seven shutouts on his way to a 16-7, 2.99 record and a spot on the AL All-Star team. In 1956 Hoeft became the first Tiger lefthander since Hal Newhouser to win 20 games, posting a 20-14 mark, but after mediocre seasons in 1957-58, Hoeft returned to the bullpen for the balance of his career.
He was traded to the Red Sox for Ted Lepcio and Dave Sisler in May, 1959, then shipped to Baltimore for Jack Harshman six weeks later. Hoeft enjoyed his best seasons in relief with the Orioles, recording a 2.02 ERA in 1961 and four wins plus seven saves in 1962, then was traded to the Giants and later to the Braves, spending single seasons with each club. On July 14, 1957 Hoeft hit two of his three career home runs.
He made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies where the recently deceased Stan Benjamin was also a player. Later on Bragan would manage three franchises, and be the first skipper of the Atlanta Braves after the team moved from Milwaukee. RIP.
FORT WORTH, Texas — Bobby Bragan, who earned the nickname “Mr. Baseball” and was dedicated to seeing baseball blossom in Fort Worth, died at his Fort Worth home on Thursday night. He was 92.
“We are dealing with the loss of one of the great ones,” former Rangers manager Bobby Valentine told ESPN.com. “He was a true renaissance man. He was amazing, so incredibly special. He had such great knowledge of baseball, such retention. He could talk baseball on one hand, recite poetry on the other. There was no one else quite like him.”
Bragan, a native of Birmingham, Ala., arrived in Fort Worth in 1948 as a player and manager after parts of seven seasons in the majors, ending up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a backup catcher for the Dodgers before spending two years in the military. He returned for the 1947 season. The Dodgers went on to lose the World Series that year to the New York Yankees, and Bragan had a pinch-hit double in his only World Series plate appearance.
The next season he was in Fort Worth helping the Cats become a winner. He stayed through the 1952 season and his teams won regular season titles in 1948 and 1949, never finishing below .500 during his tenure.
Bragan went on to manage in the majors for Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958), Milwaukee (1963-65) and Atlanta (1966). Bragan was the first manager of the Braves after they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. He managed Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Bob Lemon and Warren Spahn, compiling a 443-478 career record.
Bragan also was a major league coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Colt .45s. His minor league managerial stops also included the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.
He was not much of a defensive player but because of his good hitting did a good job filling in for the Yankees at catcher, first base, left fielder, and as a pinch hitter. RIP.
Johnny Blanchard, who played in five consecutive World Series for the New York Yankees in the early 1960s, died Wednesday of a heart attack in Minnesota. He was 76.
A key player off the bench when the Yankees won five AL pennants from 1960-64, Blanchard batted .345 (10-for-29) in the World Series overall and hit a pair of home runs as New York defeated Cincinnati in the 1961 Series.
“This is a sad day,” Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said. “Johnny was a good friend and a great teammate. He was proud of being a Yankee and always fun to be around. We’ll miss him.”
Blanchard was among the fan favorites at the Yankees’ fantasy camps, held twice a year at the team’s spring training complex.
“Johnny was a funny guy and a great storyteller,” former Yankees pitcher Bob Turley said. “He was always happy. Everybody loved him and loved being around him.”
Blanchard was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and made his major league debut four years later at 22. He is one of four players in Yankees history to homer in four consecutive at-bats, accomplishing the feat over three games from July 21-26, 1961.
“He would do anything it took to help win a ballgame,” said Ralph Houk, who managed the Yankees from 1961-63. “Johnny was a true Yankee, there’s no doubt about that.”