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, Joe Dimaggio, and Charlie Keller formed a great outfield in the 40′s when men weren’t off fighting World War II. Henrich’s career stats would have better if not for the 3 years he lost due to his service in the Coast Guard, and back trouble late in his career. After his days were up as a ballplayer, he was a Coach for the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and New York Giants. RIP.
Tommy Henrich, nicknamed “Old Reliable” for his knack of delivering clutch hits for the New York Yankees, died Tuesday. He was 96.
Henrich died in Dayton, Ohio, the team said.
Henrich was a five-time All-Star outfielder who joined the Yankees in 1937 and finished in 1950, winning four World Series championships. He missed three seasons while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II.
Henrich hit the first game-ending home run in World Series history, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with a drive against Don Newcombe to beat Brooklyn 1-0 in the 1949 opener.
“He was extremely good in big games, games that meant something,” former teammate and family friend Bobby Brown told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in Texas.
“If we were ahead 10-1 or 10-2, he was just average. If we were behind 10-1 or 10-2, same thing. But get him in a big game and he was terrific,” Brown said. “We didn’t call him ‘Old Reliable.’ We just knew he was ‘Old Reliable.’”
Yet Henrich’s most famous at-bat may have been a time when he didn’t hit the ball.
In Game 4 of the 1941 Series against the Dodgers, Henrich struck out to seemingly end the game. But Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen dropped the third strike, and Henrich raced safely to first base.
Given another chance, the Yankees rallied for four runs in the ninth inning for a 7-4 win and a 3-1 Series edge.
Henrich hit .282 with 183 home runs and 795 RBIs. He twice led the American League in triples and topped the AL by scoring 138 runs in 1948. Late in his career, he moved from right field and finished as a part-time first baseman.
Henrich played in the World Series in 1938, 1941, 1947 and 1949 and won championships every time. He hit one home run in each Series.
“I am saddened by the loss of Tommy Henrich, who was truly one of my personal favorites,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “‘Old Reliable’ was beloved by his Yankee teammates.”
Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford were among Henrich’s Hall of Fame teammates. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, pitcher Virgil Trucks is now believed to be the oldest living Yankee at 92 years.
Henrich was born in Massillon, Ohio, a city known for its football prowess, and was longtime friends with famed coach Paul Brown. After retiring, Henrich was a coach with the Yankees, New York Giants and Detroit Tigers.
Bobby Brown had stayed in touch with Henrich, and said he last saw him about four years ago. Brown said he got a phone call from Henrich’s daughter on Tuesday informing him of the death.
“Tommy was a darn good ballplayer and teammate,” Berra said in a statement released by the team. “He always took being a Yankee to heart.
“When I came up in 1947, he taught me little nuances about playing the outfield. Being around Tommy made you feel good, whether playing cards or listening to him sing with that great voice. He was a proud man, and if you knew him, he made you proud, too,” Berra said.
Henrich hit a career-high 31 home runs in 1941 and had 100 RBIs in 1948.
He won over 100 games in his 10-year major league career. After his playing days were over, Jansen worked as a pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs. RIP.
Larry Jansen, the winning pitcher for the New York Giants in the 1951 playoff game decided by Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” has died. He was 89.
The San Francisco Giants said Jansen died at his home in Oregon on Saturday.
Jansen spent nine years in the major leagues, making his biggest mark with the Giants during their pennant-winning season. He won 23 games in 1951, including one of the biggest in team — and baseball — history.
Jansen, in relief of Sal Maglie, struck out two batters in the top of the ninth before the Giants rallied with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4 in the third and deciding playoff game.
Jansen won 21 games as a rookie in 1947 and finished with a 122-89 career record and 3.58 ERA. He spent eight seasons with the Giants before pitching briefly for Cincinnati in 1956.
He allowed Mickey Mantle’s first World Series hit — a bunt single in Game 2 of the 1951 Series — and gave up a double to Joe DiMaggio in the eighth inning of Game 6, the final at-bat of the Hall of Famer’s career.
Jansen was the losing pitcher in Game 2 and Game 5 of that Series.
A journeyman pitcher with a career record of 39-38, his career spanned sixteen years, with a 6 year span in the middle where Ridzik pitched 29 innings or less of ML ball or was out of the league entirely. He was a VERY small part of the 1950 pennant winning Philadelphia Phillies known aka The Whiz Kids. Being a fan and player of Strat-O-Matic’s past seasons, I was somewhat familiar with Ridzik’s accomplishments. RIP
BRADENTON — Former professional baseball player Steve Ridzik never forgot the fans who helped him fulfill his dream for more than a decade.
The former pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Giants and several other teams, who died Jan. 8 of heart disease at 78, helped create a players’ alumni association that raises money for charity.
Ridzik helped organize a Bradenton golf tournament with former baseball players that raised more than $50,000 for Manatee Memorial Hospital in the early 1990s, said his wife, Nancy Ridzik of Bradenton. The ex-ballplayer had undergone open-heart surgery there for a triple bypass a couple of years earlier, she said.
In addition to taking part in several other fundraisers over the years, Ridzik also regularly granted fans’ requests for autographs by signing baseball cards and blank cards that arrived by mail on almost a daily basis, his wife said.
“We’ve even had baseball bats and baseballs sent here” and he obliged, she said.
Born April 29, 1929, in Yonkers, N.Y., Ridzik was signed by the Phillies’ in 1945 at age 16 and pitched his first major league game in 1950, the same year the Phillies went on to win the National League pennant for the first time in 35 years.
Nicknamed “The Whiz Kids” that year because their average age was 26, the Phillies were the youngest team to ever reach the World Series, which they lost to the New York Yankees.
Ridzik subsequently played for the Cincinnati Redlegs, the Giants, the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Senators before retiring from baseball in 1966. He later worked for a food distributor in the Washington, D.C., area before retiring and moving to Bradenton in 1988.
He helped former Senators teammate Chuck Hinton establish the nonprofit Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association in 1982 for former players to serve as goodwill ambassadors of the sport.
Ridzik returned to Philadelphia in 2000 for a 50th anniversary reunion of his pennant-winning team before a crowd of 40,000 in Veterans Stadium.
“He wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” his wife said. “I think there were 13 of the original ‘Whiz Kids’ still around back then, and now there are only about six left.”
In retirement, he enjoyed golfing and watching horse and dog racing.