The Shot Heard Round The World Revisited

 

3:57 PM, EST, October 3, 1951
“THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD”
Hit by Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants

3:57 PM, EST, October 3, 1951
“THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD”
Surrendered by Ralph Branca of the Brooklyn Dodgers

 

Seems like yesterday. As an 8th grade student at St. Christopher’s Parochial School in Park Place out the Gulf Freeway, two blocks east of the Broadway exit, I was anxious to the bone for school to end at our normal 3:00 PM, CST, stopping time in the hopes of covering the two-mile bus trek home in time to see the last part of what I hoped would’ve been a slow, but still up-for-grabs third playoff TV game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the miraculous New York Giants.

It would have been the first televised MLB playoff game to reach Houston and I could only hope that there would be a part of it still unfolding by the time I scrambled home. The late incredible surge of the Giants from way back in July to a tie for 1st place on the final day of the regular season. Now, after a split of the first two games, the two clubs were squaring off in the game that would decide which of them would go on to plays the New York Yankees in the 1951 World Series.

This was no day for Sister Mary Reginald to get lost in time at the bell for the sake of finishing some new moral story she hoped to impart. “What would really be bad, Sister,” I thought, “is if you come up with a story that causes us to miss out from seeing the end of a game that decides the National League pennant winner.”

Sister Reginald didn’t stop us, but the clock did. I found out later that the unbelievable Bobby Thomson home run “Shot Heard Round the World” took place at 3:57 PM, New York time ~ and that was exactly three minutes prior to the end of our school day at 2:57 Houston time.

Home run slugger Bobby Thomson of the Giants and pitcher Ralph Branca of the Dodgers both were bronzed as the yin and the yang of the moment. They spent the next half century touring the baseball world and getting paid for public appearances as the lion and the goat of the only moment that they each were remembered for performing.

The late 20th century news that the Giants of that season had been stealing signs ~ and that Thomson may have been aided by this practice ~ produced a rift in the relationship between the two men who actually had become close friends as a result of their bright light bond to a major moment in baseball history.

Thomson denied having the sign that Branca was planning to throw him a second straight fast baseball. His rationale was plausible. He argued that, had he been taking stolen signs, he would not have allowed the first one to go past him as a called strike, which it did. Branca, on the other hand, apparently started behaving more as a man who had been cheated out of better memory spot in history by unethical tactics used against him back in 1951.

When Thomson died at the age 86 in 2010, he and Branca apparently had never resolved the rift caused by the stolen sign accusations. Ralph Branca died at the age of 90 in 2016.

Here’s a link to an article on the sign stealing factor that you may wish to read:

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/baseball/fallout-bobby-thomson-famed-home-run-fractures-friendship-between-thomson-ralph-branca/Y1UXrsOJvWpGLyh2zUZkQP/

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

mmmmmm

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3 Responses to “The Shot Heard Round The World Revisited”

  1. Tom White Says:

    Bill,

    Another interesting story from you. I, too, missed the end of the game even though I was in the eastern time zone. Chattanooga did not have much TV in 1951.

    Regarding Ralph Branca, he died in 2016.

    Tom

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Tom. I apparently misread the fact that Baseball Reference had used a page layout that made it appear to people like me that Branca was still alive. One has to click again to get the death info on Branca. In spite of my perceptual insufficiencies, I was able to find the death date and correct that info on Branca in the story, thanks to you.

  2. Wayne A Chandler Says:

    Bill, it was a shot heard Round the World. I was in Korea and heard it on short wave radio sports news the next day. Years later, at a Vero Beach Dodger Fantasy event I got to meet Branca, who, by that time, had discussed the pitch a thousand times, still graciously.

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