Tuesday, September 19, 2006
"Brooklyn leads it, 4-2. Hartung down the line at third, not taking any chances. Lockman without too big of a lead at second, but he'll be running 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 going crazy! They're going crazy! Oh-ho!"
Nearly 55 years have passed since Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants hit "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the third game of the 3 game playoff to win the 1951 National League Pennant for the Giants. Through Russ Hodges' historic call of the most famous homerun in baseball history, baseball fans have relived the moment countless times. But, as Joshua Prager first reported in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) in 2001, there is much more to the story of the "Shot Heard Round the World" - Did Thomson know what pitch was coming?
In his new book, The Echoing Green, Prager again describes the 1951 Giants elaborate sign stealing system that invloved a Wollensak telescope and a buzzer system. The book was released today and the Wall Street Journal gives us a preview (subscription required):
"Three springs after the three-second flight of a home run, it could be stated indubitably that Branca had gotten on with his life. The pitcher had married, fathered kids, found a second profession, a second ball club, picked up by Detroit in 1953. And though famous as a loser, he had come to coexist both with Thomson and his lot. "I'll always be one of the all-time goats of baseball," Branca remarked the summer previous. "It's rough. But gee, I guess that's baseball."After Prager's original article was published in 2001, Thomson felt that a burden was lifted off his shoulders.
"Thomson too was freed. "It's been brought up before and I've always been glad where it quieted down," he told WFAN radio host Christopher Russo the next day. "But you know, that's foolish. ... Getting it all out is the best thing. I feel almost like I just got out of prison."