Thomson's Shot Still a Sports Rarity - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/03/07

Thomson's Shot Still a Sports Rarity

Bobby Thomson Bobby Thomson

Robert Brown Thomson was born October 25, 1923, in Glasgow, Scotland.

But 56 years ago today, Bobby Thomson became a forever name in American sports.

There have been roughly a quarter of a million home runs hit in Major League Baseball history. But none has ever been more dramatic, more memorable or more celebrated than Thomson's Shot Heard Round the world, a bottom-of-the-ninth blast that led the New York Giants past the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League title in 1951.

"Not a day goes by that I don't get letters or packages of things to sign,'' said Thomson, who moved to Savannah last summer to be closer to his daughter, Nancy Mitchell. "Let's face it, I'm aware that that's what I'm remembered for. And I've always said, it's nice to be remembered.''

Perhaps Thomson's home run has endured so long because it came at a time when baseball was the only game that mattered and in one of the biggest rivalries in sports. But he has another theory.

"It's Russ Hodges' call,'' Thomson says of the excited commentary by the Giants radio announcer at the time. "It's his excitement, his voice. That's what people still remember about the thing.''

What Thomson remembers is everything about the moment he went from being a solid major leaguer--someone who would hit 264 home runs and make three all-star games in a 14-year career--to a name synonymous with late-game heroics in all sports and the owner of what historians call the greatest home run ever.

They didn't call it being in the zone back then. But even now, Thomson knows he was somewhere he'd never been before.

"People ask me what was the crowd like. And I realized, what crowd. There was no crowd there. I was all by myself,'' said Thomson, who came to bat with the Giants trailing 4-2 and hit a three-run home run. "I was talking to myself, telling myself do a good job. I was saying give yourself a chance to hit, wait and watch. Fundamentals.

"I had never done that before going up to bat. And the big thing is I get to home plate and Ralph Branca's on the mound. They had changed pitches. I wasn't even aware that they changed pitches.''

It was on the Brooklyn rigthhander's second offering that Thomson changed the game, the 1951 season and his place in baseball history.

"I remember I just got a glimpse of it and I jumped on it,'' Thomson said of Branca's high, inside fastball that he drilled to left. "Then it disappeared into the stands and from that point, it was excitement I hadn't experienced before.''

Over the next 56 years, dramatic home runs were always compared to Thomson's. But none ever surpassed it.

And, as he marks another anniversary in a new hometown, Thomson remains grateful of his moment in baseball history and humbly aware of the continued reaction to it.

"I'll be the first to admit that I had to be a little bit lucky,'' said Thomson, who will turn 84 later this month. "But I gave myself a chance to hit. That's what I take credit for.

"Hey, I could have popped it up.''

Reported by: Tim Guidera, tguidera@wtoc.com - Read more of Tim's stories here.

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