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Bobby Thomson, who hit 'shot heard 'round the world' hero, dies

Bobby Thomson, the man whose walk-off "shot heard 'round the world" home run capped a near-miraculous comeback playoff victory by the New York Giants in 1951, died Monday at the age of 86.

Thomson, whose health had been declining, died in Savannah, Ga.

His three-run homer against the Brooklyn Dodgers on Oct. 3, 1951, in the Polo Grounds is one of the most famous walk-off home runs of all time.

"I can remember feeling as if time was just frozen," Thomson said of the homer. "It was a delirious, delicious moment."

The Dodgers were leading the deciding game of the series, 4-1, in the ninth inning when a tired Don Newcombe could not hold off the Giants. Ralph Branca came in to pitch and Thomson sent his second pitch, a fastball, over the left-field wall for a 5-4 victory and prompted one of the classic calls in baseball history from Giants announcer Russ Hodges: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"

"Right away after I hit it I thought it was a home run," Thomson said. "Going around the bases, I could hardly breathe. I was starting to hyperventilate."

Clint Hartung, who was on third base when Thomson homered, died last month at 87.

By Cindy Boren  |  August 17, 2010; 1:28 PM ET
Categories:  MLB  
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Here is a good video of the shot heard 'round the world:

Posted by: kjhealey | August 17, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

That's it!??? Four lousy paragraphs!???

Come on WaPo- you can do better than that for such a famous player.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | August 17, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Could never view this home run the same after it came out that the Giants stole the sign and Thompson knew what the pitch was going to be.

Posted by: dcborn61 | August 17, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I taught a son of Bobby Thompson's back in the late '70's (in Watchung, NJ). And got to meet the man at a Parent-Teachers meeting. Colleagues agreed; his children were brought up well and that Bobby himself was a quiet, pleasant and helpful person. My best to his family.

Posted by: dongrahamwp | August 17, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

you make it sound like Thomson hit a grand slam home run. actually one run had already scored in the ninth and two men were on base.


Posted by: sseplow49 | August 17, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Don mean to repeat, but I just read in the NY Daily News that his son, whom I had taught, previously died. That was a shock.

Posted by: dongrahamwp | August 17, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I was a high school junior on New York's Long Island and as an avid GIANTS FAN was a regular at the Polo Grounds. Missed being at this game but did hear it ... and Russ Hodges as he went crazy with his "THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT."
Sleep well Bobbie ....................

Posted by: loretoguy | August 17, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

For what it is worth, Thomson denied he got the sign prior to hitting the HR.

Posted by: vwoobah3803 | August 17, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Cindy, your poll left off easily one of the most miraculous of walk off home run shots ever.

Can you say Kirk Gibson??

Posted by: SportzNut21 | August 17, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

We left off Gibson's home run because, while there's no doubt that the series was over after he hit it, it came in a Game 1. And we have a full obit on Thomson:

Posted by: Cindy Boren | August 18, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

A Game 7 World Series walk-off -- against the Yankees no less -- trumps ANYTHING else in my opinion. Bill Mazeroski, hands-down, should win this poll, but the early returns suggest an appropriate level of love and respect for the great "shot heard 'round the world."

Pirates fans also hold a deep respect for Mr. Thomson and his epic home run, but we will never forget the greatest moment in our proud franchise's history, 50 years ago this October.

We love you Maz! Happy birthday and we'll see you on Sept. 5 as they unveil your statue at PNC Park before a game against the Nats!

Posted by: dchurch18 | August 18, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd say that the home run hit by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932 at Wrigley Field in Chicago -- the "called homer" -- is among the most discussed and debated HRs of all time.

Obviously, what now constitutes The Post's staff possesses no knowledge of any history that does not involve a reality show or anything that happened before 1950.

Posted by: kinkysr | August 18, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Let's all agree to shelve the term "walk-off." "Game-ending" is more accurate and better.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | August 18, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I am not not sure I understand your logic in leaving Kirk Gibson's HR off the list. While it was only a World Series game, and # 1 at that, it may have been the most dramatic HR in history for a number of reasons.

First Gibson was sick from the flu and could barely walk, forget even trying to run. He came in as a pinch hitter with 2 outs in the ninth and the tying run on 1st. Even if he got a base hit, it is reasonable to suspect he might have been thrown out trying to reach base. If he did get on then they would have had to sub a base runner in for him.

Hitting a home run was probably the only thing Gibson could have done to not lose the game. In comparison, Bobby Thomson's fabulous HR did not have as many drama points as Gibson's. Thomson was healthy, and if he had not hit a homer, but merely a made a base hit, would most likely reached base and preserved the inning for the next batter, Willie Mays!

Taking nothing away from Thomson, I think Gibson deserves to be in the same conversation and possibly even a hobbled step higher.

Posted by: SilverBullit | August 18, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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