August 17, 2010
The Giant who hit the home run for the ages now belongs to them.
As first reported by the New York Daily News, Bobby Thomson — the man who hit "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" to win the 1951 NL pennant — died "peacefully" at his Georgia home on Monday night. He was 86 years old and had been in poor health.
Thomson played for five teams over 15 seasons, hit 264 career home runs and was a three-time All-Star. But he ensured his name will always be remembered on Oct. 3, 1951, the day he hit his dramatic home run off Brooklyn's Ralph Branca to send the Giants to a 5-4 victory that earned them entry into the 1951 World Series. It has often been called the greatest home run of all time.
[Photos: More Bobby Thomson images]
Thomson's blast landed in the left-field stands at the Polo Grounds and capped a four-run ninth-inning rally that was emblematic of the Giants' season. The team trailed the Dodgers by 13 1/2 games on Aug. 11, but went 37-7 to finish the season and force a three-game tiebreaker series with their crosstown rivals. Thomson's home run to win the decisive third game was so big that it basically made the ensuing World Series a historical footnote.
(Who ever remembers that the Giants lost to the Yankees in six games?)
Though a 2001 Wall Street Journal story alleged that the moment was a product of stolen signs, Thomson never admitted to knowing what was coming from Branca.
But that's neither here nor there as today is a day to remember the man who experienced baseball's ultimate feeling before players like Bill Mazeroski, Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson, Kirby Puckett and Aaron Boone(notes) ever did. There are undoubtedly going to be a lot of nostalgic baseball fans reminiscing about that game and even more "The Giants win the pennant!" impressions going on over the next few days.
And rightfully so. Check out the magic moment once again.