Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Shot Heard 'Round the World.
Dateline: October 3, 1951. The Polo Grounds,, New York.
Ralph Branca was on the mound for dem bums The Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Dodgers were up 4-2 and it was the bottom of the ninth.
As late as August 11, 1951 the Dodgers had a 13 1/2 game lead. But the Giants went on to win 16 in a row and 37 of their last 44, tying the Dodgers and forcing a three game playoff.
Bobby Thomson was at the plate. And a little known fact was that a rookie nicknamed "The Say Hey Kid" was on deck. Young Willie Mays was about to become a witness to history.
Whitey Lockman was on second, having just stroked a double scoring Alvin Dark and sending Don Mueller to third. Mueller slid awkwardly into the bag and broke his ankle. Clint Hartung was sent in as a pinch runner.
Charlie Dressen, the Dodgers manager, went to his bullpen. Branca got the call over Carl Erskine, despite the fact that Thompson, who was due up next, had blasted a two run shot off of Branca in the first game of the series. Dressen had seen Erskine bounce a few curves while warming up and he didn't think Erskine had his stuff that day.
So there it was-3:58 pm on a crisp autumn day in Coogan's Bluff in Washington Heights New York (right next to Harlem) as two players who knew each other very well faced off for the right to have their team face the Yankees in the World Series.
Thomson dug into the plate and Branca sent the first pitch right over the middle for a called strike.
Hartung danced just a little off of third as Branca hurled a high fastball for what he thought would be a ball, setting up his next pitch, which he planned to be a breaking ball down and away,
Thomson swung, and a few moments later announcer Russ Hodges was screaming "the Giants Win The Pennant!! The Giants Win The Pennant! The Giants Win The Pennant!!!"
Bobby Thomson passed away yesterday. Nicknamed "The Staten Island Scot" because of his Scottish heritage, Thomson will forever be remembered for perhaps the greatest walk off home run in the history of Baseball (although Pirate fans will tell you it was Bill Mazeroski's home run in the bottom of the 9th of the 7th game of the 1960 world series when the underdog Bucs beat the mighty Yankees in Forbes Field, Pittsburgh.)