Thomson's Famous Homer Lives On
From the Vault
the long history of baseball there have been poignant, exciting,
moments. But very few can compare to what happened on October 3, 1951
old Polo Grounds in New York City.
Some refer to
that time as "The Miracle at Coogan's Bluff." Others, especially in
Brooklyn, call it "Dat Day." But no matter what label is applied it was
a time to remember.
It was a time
when the Giants played out of the Polo Grounds in Manhattan and the
entertained millions in their tiny Brooklyn ballpark, Ebbets Field. It
time of tremendous fan devotion to each team.
Brooklyn manager Charlie Dressen had bragged, "The Giants is dead."
It seemed to aptly describe the plight of Leo Durocher's team. For on
the Giants trailed the Dodgers by 13 l/2 games in the standings.
incredibly, the Giants locked into what has been called "The Miracle
Run." They won 37 of their final 44 games - 16 of them in one frenetic
stretch - and closed the gap.
a once-in-a-lifetime situation," recalls Monte Irvin, who batted .312
year for the Giants. "We kept on winning. The Dodgers kept on losing.
seemed like we beat everybody in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning.
and Dodgers finished the season in a flat-footed tie for first-place
and met on
the first day of October in the first game of the first play-off in the
of the National League. The teams split the first two games setting the
for the third and final game.
of the Dodgers was pitted against Sal Maglie of the Giants. Both
won 23 games during the regular season.
began under overcast skies and a threat of rain. Radio play-by-play
into schoolrooms, factories, office buildings, city prisons,
Street teletype intermingled stock quotations with play-by-play details
The game was
tied 1-1 after seven innings. Then Brooklyn scored three times in the
Many of the
Dodger fans at the Polo Grounds and the multitude listening to the game
radio thought that the Giants would not come back.
the Giants never gave up. "We knew that Newcombe would make the wrong
pitch," said Monte Irvin. "That was his history."
came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning - only three outs
their miracle season.
led off with a single through the right side of the infield. Don
slapped the ball past Dodger first baseman Gil Hodges. Irvin fouled
Lockman doubled down the left field line. Dark scored.
on second and third Ralph Branca came in to relieve Newcombe. Bobby
waited to bat. Durocher said, "I did not know whether they would pitch
Thomson or not. First base was open. Willie Mays, just a rookie, was on
York Giant announcer Russ Hodges described the moment to millions
their radios that October afternoon:
Thomson up there swinging.... Bobby batting at .292. Branca pitches and
takes a strike call on the inside corner. Lockman without too big of a
second but he'll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one.
throws ... there's a long drive...it's gonna be, I believe. . .' The
moment was 3:58 P.M., October 3, 1951.
Giants win the pennant!" Hodges screamed the words at the top of his
voice, all semblance of journalistic objectivity gone. "The Giants win
pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
bellowed it out eight times - and then overcome by the moment and
had to yield the microphone.
was on parade at the Polo Grounds for hours after the game. For almost
hour after the epic home run, there were so many phone calls placed by
in Manhattan and Brooklyn that the New York Telephone Company reported
almost broke down.
Bobby Thomson and Ralph
Branca would play out their major
league careers. But the moment they shared - as hero and goat that
at the Polo Grounds - would link them forever.
Harvey Frommer, a professor at
Dartmouth College in the MALS program, is in his 40th year of writing
noted oral historian and sports journalist, he is the author of 42
including the classics: best-selling “New York City Baseball,
best-selling Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,as well as his acclaimed
Remembering Yankee Stadium and best-selling Remembering Fenway Park.
praised When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl was
Frommer Baseball Classic –
Remembering Yankee Stadium (Second Edition) is his newest sports
effort. A link
to purchase autographed copies of Frommer Sports Books is at: http://frommerbooks.com/
prolific author is at work on
THE ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK (2017) http://frommerbooks.com/advance-praise.html