Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bobby Thomson 1923-2010

The impact of Bobby Thomson's passing was recently felt throughout the baseball world. The iconic call of "The Giants Win the Pennant" by former New York Giants announcer Russ Hodges during the even known as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" will forever be linked to the scenes of an excited crowd at the Polo Grounds of Upper Manhattan as the Giants defeated their hated rivals: The Brooklyn Dodgers. The game was the third game of a best 2 out of 3 playoff series that was to decide who would represent the National League in the 1951 World Series. What was significant about that series was that it was the first playoff series to ever be played to decide who would represent the National League in the World Series. Even more impressive was that the Giants were 13.5 games behind the Dodgers by mid-August and rolled off a 16-game winning streak forcing a tie for first place with the Dodgers to end the 1951 regular season. after splitting the first two games, the game came down to the bottom of the ninth with the Dodgers leading 4-2 with two runners on base for the Giants.

The game was decided by Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca delivering a pitch to Bobby Thomson which in turn was transformed by Thomson into a game winning three-run homer landing in the left-field seats as the Giants won 5-4. Click on the video below to see the footage off the homerun with commentary from legenadary announcers Ernie Harwell and Red Barber:

I have to admit, aside from the sounds and the images of that game I didn't really know much about Bobby Thomson. I decided to look into his playing career and so here goes.

Thomson, who was known as the Staten Island Scot (you gotta love the old school nicknames) was born Robert Brown Thomson on October 25, 1923 in the town of Glasgow, Scotland. His family emigrated to the United States when Thompson was two years old and settled in Staten Island, New York. Thomson was signed as a free-agent by the New York Giants in 1942. Thompson made the major leagues in 1946 and played for a total of 14 years (New York Giants, Milwaukee Braves, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles) retiring with the Baltimore Orioles in 1960. For his career, Thomson batted .270 with 1705 Hits (267 2B, 74 3B, 264 HR) and 1026 RBI. Thomson walked a total of 559 times and struck out 804 times while stealng 38 bases in 58 attempts. Defensively, Thomson played all three outfield positions while also spending time at third-base and first-base. He was a three-time All Star for the New York Giants (1948, 1949, 1952).

Thomson's best season came in 1949 when he batted .309 with 198 hits (35 2B, 9 3B, 27 HR) and 109 RBI. He walked 44 times while strikong out 45 times and stealing 10 bases.

In the years that followed, Thomson was always humble when talking about his famous homerun often referring to it as "just another homer" and he was always conscious of the effect the homerun had on his adversary during that at-bat. Always the gentleman, Thomson and Ralph Branca became very close friends after that at-bat, always being linked together in the history of Baseball.

Thomson's death was annouced by his daughter Megan Thomson Armstrong. Thank you Mr. Thomson for the amazing images of an era of baseball that is lost to the sands of time. Thank you for your grace and humility in life and now in death. May You Rest Forever in Peace.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for the Obituary listing for Bobby Thomson from the New York Times dated August 17, 2010
- Click Here for the career statistics for Bobby Thomson from
- Click Here for images of the New York Times October 4, 1951 edition with the headline "GIANTS CAPTURE PENNANT, BEATING DODGERS 5-4 IN 9TH ON THOMSON’S 3-RUN HOMER." from the Mitchell
- Click Here for the Box Score of the game from Baseball

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