Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

Bobby Thomson has died. You never heard of him? Then you're unfit to be an American and must move right now to someplace outside the country, like Nancy Pelosi's congressional district. Bobby Thomson was the greatest heartbreaker in the history of sport...well, in the history of Brooklyn, New York.

Bobby Thomson is the one who hit the “shot heard round the world” in the 1951 playoff game between the Giants and the Dodgers, after the Giants came back from 13 1/2 games down on August 11 to tie the Dodgers and earn three game play off series. The Giants scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4. He did it with 20 year old Willie Mays waiting on deck.

What I didn’t realize until just recently is that the guest of honor at my sixteenth birthday part was involved in that game. That’s right, Alvin Dark who led off the inning with a single and then scored just ahead of Thomson’s homerun to cut the deficit to 4-2, surprised me by coming to my sixteenth birthday party.

You talk about a night. A dozen or so high school baseball nuts (with one girl as I recall) sitting around talking baseball with Al Dark who not only played in the majors, but  had also managed the A’s to two World Series (72 and 73). And we talked and talked and talked about baseball.

Great stuff.

The 1951 playoff game was made famous by Russ Hodges’ radio call, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” (Interestingly, long time (and recently deceased) Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell was calling the game for the Giants on their flagship station.) This 1951 comeback later became the scenario for an episode of MASH.


Tim said...

I just read an article this morning - will be used for a sermon illustration - related to Thomson and "The Shot." It's about Clyde Sukeforth, little-known player and manager who scouted and helped sign Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He, technically, was the first person to manage Robinson, as Leo Durocher was suspended for the first game of the '47 season, leaving Sukeforth as the manager.

Sukeforth was an assistant for the Dodgers in '51 and was responsible for sending in Ralph Branca who delivered the fateful pitch to Thomson. Sukeforth was still in the bullpen when he heard the crack of the bat. His comment about his role is "you might as well say that I sent in the wrong pitcher that day."

Here's a link to the article:

Last bit of trivia about Sukeforth: he is portrayed as the the Brooklyn manager in the famous "Game Called Because of Rain" Norman Rockwell painting.

Robert said...

Thomson also had an outstanding Christian testimony. Good guy.

Don Johnson said...

FWIW, Dark managed the A's to only one World Series win, 1974, after Dick Williams managed them to two wins in 1972 and 1973. See wikipedia:

That must have been some birthday party. I met Dark when we were members of the same church in SC. He often sat in the row ahead of us (we are creatures of habit and tend to sit in the same place). I was always too shy to engage him in conversation about baseball. Too Canadian, maybe.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3