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Shot Heard 'Round the World

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The Shot Heard 'Round the World refers to Bobby Thomson's game winning home run for the New York Giants in the 1951 playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The home run is one of the most famous in baseball history and has become a part of American mythology. For example, it features as the central event in the first chapter of Don DeLillo's 1997 novel Underworld.

[edit] Background

The game took place on October 3, 1951 in the Polo Grounds. The Giants had trailed the Dodgers by 13 1/2 games in August. They finished the season by going 37-7 and managed to tie the Dodgers on the last day of the season.

The tie necessitated a three-game playoff. After the two teams split the first two games, the third game was tied 1-1 in the eighth inning when the Dodgers broke out with three runs. All the Dodgers had to do was close out the Giants and they would head to the World Series.

[edit] Thomson's home run

In the bottom of the ninth inning, trailing 4-1, Alvin Dark led off with a single and Don Mueller also singled. Monte Irvin fouled out. Whitey Lockman doubled in Dark, while Mueller hurt his ankle sliding into third. He was replaced by pinch runner Clint Hartung. It was clear that Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe was tiring. Manager Charlie Dressen replaced Newk with Ralph Branca.

With runners on second and third (Lockman and Hartung), Bobby Thomson came to the plate. Dressen could have walked Thomson to try to force a game-ending double play. Instead, Branca pitched to Thomson and Thomson hit away.

Thomson took the first pitch for a strike then on Branca's second pitch, he hit it into the left field stands for a 3-run homer that gave the Giants a 5-4 win. Pandemonium broke out as the Giants punched their ticket to the World Series.

Russ Hodges made the call of the home run on the radio. It can be heard here.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E LOB
Brooklyn Dodgers 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 4 7 0 7
New York Giants 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 5 8 1 3
W: Larry Jansen (23-11) L: Ralph Branca (13-12) HR: Bobby Thomson (32)
Attendance: 34,320

[edit] Further reading

  • Brian Biegel and Pete Fornatale: Miracle Ball: My Hunt For the Shot Heard 'Round the World, Crown Books, Random House, New York, NY, 2009.
  • Don DeLillo: '"Pafko at the Wall", Harper's Magazine, October 1992. [1]
  • Tom Harris: "But the Polo Grounds Belonged to the Giants: An Interview with Bobby Thomson", in The National Pastime, SABR, Volume 28 (2008), pp. 68-77.
  • Joshua Prager: The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World, Pantheon Books, New York, NY, 2006.
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