Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Bobby Thomson is dead at age 86. 

So many times I listened to a recording of Hodges' historical call as a kid.  Whenever I think of baseball, I think of sunny afternoons, the smell of freshly cut grass, hot dogs with mustard, dirt never feeling dirty, and Bobby Thomson. 

Thomson, circa 1951
For this baseball fan, it never seemed to matter that I wasn't alive for his moment.  It never mattered that if forced to, I probably couldn't pick Thomson out of a crowd.  What mattered was the moment itself. 

"The Shot Heard 'Round the World," is a time traveling moment in history.  While the moment lasted merely seconds, it will continue to exist in our hearts and our children's hearts for all time.  

Thomson referred to himself as an "accidental hero."  In many ways, mostly by his own admission, Thomson felt dwarfed in baseball stature compared to some of his teammates.  After all he was surrounded by future Hall-of-Famers Willie Mays and Monte Irvin.  In fact, not many know that it was Mays who was on-deck during Thomson's famous at-bat.  

Nonetheless, while Mays had "The Catch" and Irvin's legend was staked in the Negro Leagues, it is Thomson who will forever be cemented in baseball lore.  

Over half of a century has passed and "The Flying Scot" still heard cheers on the streets of New York.  Old-timers would call out his name, fathers would tell their sons the tale as he passed them in diners, and Brooklyn still cringes when you mention his name.

A man of great composure and love for the game played 15 seasons with the Giants, Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles.  The other half of the story, Ralph Branca (the man who threw that now famous pitch to Thomson) would later join forces with him on national tours to describe the moment from both perspectives.  

Thomson and Branca were a part of the "Dodger-Giant War," that existed before both teams moved to the West Coast.  But what was simply a historical rivalry, became legend overnight.  
The passing of this legend brings sorrow to the heart of this writer.  Fortunately, he's in a place where he can run and play again.  There really is something special about heroes.  

So, here's to Bobby Thomson, a humble man, but nonetheless, still one of the best. And there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.  




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