Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bobby Thomson, RIP

Bobby Thomson, the former Giants player who hit the most famous home run in baseball history, died yesterday at the age of 86.  His "Shot Heard 'Round The World" off of Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca ended the greatest pennant race in history between the two fiercest rivals in history in the media capitol of the world.  That's probably why it's so famous.  It's also the most famous radio broadcast in sports history, called by Giants announcer Russ Hodges.

On August 11, 1951, the New York Giants were 13 1/2 games behind their cross-town rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Giants won 37 of their last 44 games to tie the Dodgers for first place on the last day of the regular season, forcing a three game playoff for the pennant.  The teams split the first two games, and the Dodgers had a 4-1 lead in the ninth inning of game 3.  The Giants started a rally, and after closing the score to 4-2, Thomson came to bat with two runners on base.  Two pitches later, history was made.

Here's a video of the home run as shown on Best Damn Sports Show Period.  It was edited down, very unfortunately, to fit their show, and due to copyright reasons, I'm guessing, the unedited version just doesn't show up on the internet.  Also, there is a story and a video clip on mlb.com that shows a bit more of what happened after the traditional recording of Russ Hodges' call ends.  Then for further listening pleasure, a video of Hall of Fame broadcasters Ernie Harwell and Red Barber on their TV coverage of that game.

A strange twist to this home run changed the way sports broadcasts were handled from then on.  Recordings of radio broadcasts of great events simply weren't done in those days.  But a Dodger fan got out his tape recorder in the last inning of a would-be Dodger victory and made a recording of what he thought would be Hodges' lament over a Giants defeat, just to rub it in the face of Giants fans.  Here's a blog article dealing with that history.  All in all, a great homer by a true gentleman.

Trivia question:  What rookie was on deck when Thomson hit his famous homer?

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