Watch The Bobby Thompson Homerun
On August 11, 1951, the New York Giants were 13 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers. But the Giants won their next sixteen games in a row and finished by winning 37 of their last 44 games to catch the Dodgers.
Brooklyn beat the Philadelphia Phillies on the last day of the season to end in a tie with the Giants.
The National League decided the two clubs would play a best of three playoff for the championship.
The series started with the Giants winning game one at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, thanks to a Bobby Thompson, two run homer. Games two and three would be played at the Giants Polo Grounds.
The Dodgers won game two 10-0 on a complete game shutout by rookie pitcher Clem Labine.
Sal Maglie would start for the Giants and Don Newcombe for the Dodgers in the deciding game. Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers had a 4-1 lead. But Giants short stop Alvin Dark singled to get things going.
Normally with a three run lead, the Dodgers would have been playing for the double play, but Dodger first baseman Gil Hodges was guarding the line.
Don Mueller followed with a single through the hole at first. Had Hodges been playing his normal position, it probably would have been a double play. Instead, Dark went to third and Mueller was at first.
After Monte Irvin popped out, Whitey Lockman doubled down the left field line to score Dark and move Mueler to third. The score was now Dodgers 4, Giants 2.
Dodger manager Charlie Dressen had seen enough. He took Newcombe out and brought in reliever Ralph Branca. Branca had given up Bobby Thompson's game one home run and Thompson was up next. In fact, Branca had given up several homers to Thompson that season.
On October 3, 1951, Bobby Thompson stepped in to face Branca. The first pitch was a fast ball for a called strike. At 3:58 pm. New York time, Branca delivered the next pitch, another fast ball. Thompson pulled the pitch to left as all the players and fans watched. The foul line at the Polo Grounds was only 279 feet from home plate. There was a 17 foot high wall in left and the "315" mark was about 30 feet from the foul line.
The ball just cleared the 315 sign for a game and pennant winning home run.
We have all heard the call by broadcaster Russ Hodges many times...
"Bobby Thomson... up there swingin'... He's had two out of three, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third-base line... One out, last of the ninth... Branca pitches... Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner... Bobby hitting at .292... He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center... Brooklyn leads it 4-2...Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances... Lockman with not too big of a lead at second, but he'll be runnin' like the wind if Thomson hits one... Branca throws"...
There's a long drive... it's gonna be, I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy! HEEEY-OH!!!''"
"I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson... hit a line drive... into the lower deck... of the left-field stands... and this blame place is goin' crazy! The Giants! Horace Stoneham has got a winner! The Giants won it... by a score of 5 to 4... and they're pickin' Bobby Thomson up... and carryin' him off the field!"
The New York Giants went on to lose the World Series in 1951 four games to two to the new York Yankees. But Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard 'Round The World is one of baseball's great moments.
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