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Who was Ralph Branca?

Dear Guru,

My 7th grade earth science teacher was Ralph Branca's brother. [He] was boring and few kids liked him. Earth science stunk. Couldn't play with cool chemical reactions or anything. Who is Ralph Branca anyway? No looking it up.

-From:, 2/22/98

Guru's Reponse

Ralph Branca is remembered for throwing the home run pitch to Bobby Thompson in 1951 that became know as the "Shot Heard Around the World."   As a result, the Brooklyn Dodgers lost the playoff pennant to the New York Giants.  But to understand the significance, you need to learn the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers for whom he pitched.  During about a ten year span beginning in the mid 1940's, they were loaded with Hall of Fame talent (Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, and Jackie Robinson) but couldn't win the World Series, earning them the nickname "Those Bums."  While Ralph Branca was a good pitcher, his pitch symbolized their failure.

I admit that out of curiosity I looked up this part: the Dodgers lost to the World Series to the Yankees in 1947 (4-3), 1949 (4-1), 1952 (4-3), and 1953 (4-2) before finally beating them in 1955 (4-3).  They were unable to repeat as champions however, losing to the Yankees in 1956 (4-3).

P.S.  Why did Ralph Branca's brother restrict your use of dangerous chemicals during Earth science?

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