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Bobby Thomson: 1923-2010

Aug 17, 2010, 2:31 PM EDT

The man who hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” has died. Bobby Thomson was 86. No one can be fully defined by their best or worst moments on this
Earth. But if you have to choose one of ‘em, being remembered for
hitting the most famous home run in baseball history ain’t bad.

And while yes, Thomson was obviously best known for the home run that famously won the 1951 pennant, he was a pretty good ballplayer apart from that day too. Thomson hit .270/.332/.462 hitter who smacked 264 homers over the course of 15 major league seasons. He was an All-Star a couple of times. He got some MVP votes.  In terms of quality I suppose a decent analog for him these days would be Raul Ibanez or someone like him.

But most important is that by all accounts — all of which I read in various books — Bobby Thomson was a wonderful human being who will no doubt be missed by those who knew and loved him.

  1. Bob - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    I wasn’t born when Bobby Thomson hit”The shot heard round the world” but can recallm Fathe speaking of it. It was his stories of Thomson and Willie Mays and the oter great Giants that made me a Giants fan. So I guess I can blame him for my having tostay up late her on the East Coast peering at the bottom line on ESPN to see how my beloved Giants did!!

  2. BC - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    I would think he’s more like JD Drew than Ibanez.

  3. edgar - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    for a great tie-in to a great guy and his lifetime of fame, read don delillo’s ”underworld”

  4. CG - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    I had the joy of working out at the same gym as Bobby Thompson in the early 2000s. One of the most friendly and down to earth human I have ever met. And man, he could lift a ton for an older dude.

  5. mrfloydpink - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    I looked at b-r and was shocked to see that Bobby Thompson’s most comparable player was Frank Thomas. Then I realized it was the other Frank Thomas.

  6. Oscodaowl78 - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    I was in 5th grade in 1951 and was an avid New York Giants fan. We didn’t have a TV yet, but one of my friends, who was a Brooklyn Dodger fan, did. He invited me to his house after school to watch the remainder of the game. We probably got to his house in the 7th or 8th inning as I recall. To this day, I can hardly believe what we saw that afternoon. It’s still my favorite baseball thrill!

  7. Simon DelMonte - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
    It’s also worth recalling that Thomson and Branca became the best of friends, epitomizing sportsmanship as well as human decency.

  8. RichardInBigD - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    I just texted my 16 year old son with the news. His reply – “Bobby Who?” kinda saddened me. Then I shot back to him – “The Giants win the pennant!! The Giants win the pennant!!”. His final response on the matter – “Oh, you mean the guy that went yard off Bobby Valentine’s father-in-law, what’s his name..” Made me feel a lot better.

  9. barbara sullivan - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    I ran all the way home from high school and just got in the door when Bobby Thomson hit that home run I have a photo of him with my father after a game at the Polo Grounds Wonderful day

  10. barbara sullivan - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    I ran all the way home from high school and just got in the door when Bobby Thomson hit that famous homerun And I have a picture of him with my father after a Giants game and the Polo Grounds
    Wonderful days!
    Barbara

  11. john pileggi - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    What a class act Mr. Thomson was. I never tired of seeing and hearing he and Ralph Branca so graciously discuss 1951. Baseball’s Golden Age has lost a terrific participant.

  12. BIGBRUCE11047 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    When Thompson hit that famous home run, that set a major league record for the biggest failure in baseball’s history. There is a M*A*S*H re-run episode that has that home run as a story line. Bobby Thompson was an average player and 1951 was Willie Mays’ rookie season. If fact he was standing on deck when Thompson hit the home run. Of course, we all know what Willie did for his Giants. I am sorry to hear that Bobby Thompson has died and my heartfelt prayers and condolences go out to his friends and family.

  13. BIGBRUCE11047 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    When Thompson hit that famous home run, that set a major league record for the biggest failure in baseball’s history. There is a M*A*S*H re-run episode that has that home run as a story line. Bobby Thompson was an average player and 1951 was Willie Mays’ rookie season. If fact he was standing on deck when Thompson hit the home run. Of course, we all know what Willie did for his Giants. I am sorry to hear that Bobby Thompson has died and my heartfelt prayers and condolences go out to his friends and family.

  14. BIGBRUCE11047 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Back in the Golden Age of baseball, most of the players on other teams sure gave respect to other players. Now, Ralph Branca is the pitcher that allowed the home run. Thanks for your respect Mr. Branca. Back in those days, nobody was playing on “steroids” so what happened during a game was done out of talent and experience.

  15. caveman - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    As I remember, there was only one out when Thompson went yard. Young Willie Mays was indeed on deck and would have come to the plate if Thompson had done anything other than hit it out or a double play had ocurred.

  16. scottw - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Afterwards, when Thompson was playing for the Milwaukee Braves, he got hurt and was replaced by Hank Aaron, who himself later went on to hit the pennant-clinching HR for Milwaukee, his “biggest thrill” HR in his career.
    Also, to Mr. Floydpink, if it helps, the Frank Thomas Bobby T. was compared to was part of the quartet that was the first in MLB history to hit 4 HRs in a row – the Milwaukee Braves’ Mathews, Aaron, Adcock, Thomas.

  17. Lipper - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    The Giants win the … I’m a Cubs fan. What’s a pennant?

  18. ralphmegna - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:10 PM

    One of the best episodes of one of the best TV shows of all time – Sports Night – was built on the recounting of the Thomson home run, “The Giants Win the Pennant, the Giants Win the Pennant”. If you ever wonder why some people love baseball, just watch this episode – it is a love letter to all that was good about its golden era.

  19. dlf - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    Meaning no disrespect to Thompson, but it is pretty well documented (see Joshua Prager’s book Echoing Green) that all throughout that season and including the final at bat the Giants were using an electronic system rigged to tell the batters what the pitcher was throwing. Baseball, since the days of Cap Anson, has been played by people who bent the rules in order to win and will be played the same way into the future. It does the present no good to mythologize the past as a time where giants walked the earth, men were men, and all was fair and beautiful in the world.

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