Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Coast Guard 1
Birth:
25 Oct 1923 1
Death:
16 Aug 2010 1
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Personal Details

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Person:
Robert Thomson 1
Gender: Male 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-7960 1
Birth:
25 Oct 1923 1
Death:
16 Aug 2010 1
Cause: Unknown 1
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World War II 1

Branch:
Coast Guard 1
Enlistment Date:
01 Apr 1943 1
Organization:
Coast Guard 1
Organization Code:
CG 1
Release Date:
30 Apr 1945 1

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Stories

Bobby Thomson, who hit the 'Shot Heard 'Round the World' home run for the Giants, dies at 86

 

New York Giants' hero Bobby Thomson (c.) is hugged by team owner Horace Stoneham (l.) and manager Leo Durocher (r.) after slugging a 3-run homer in the ninth inning to beat Dodgers.

The man who hit the most famous home run in baseball history is gone.

Bobby Thomson, whose "Shot Heard 'Round the World" capped a best-of-three playoff and the New York Giants' miracle comeback to win the 1951 National League pennant over the Dodgers, died Monday night at his home in Savannah, Ga.

The cause of death had not been specified, and although Thomson had been in declining health in recent years, his daughter, Megan Thomson Armstrong, said he died peacefully. He was 86.

 

Baseball has had several historic home runs, but Thomson's shot off Ralph Branca into the left-field seats of the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951, will always be regarded as the granddaddy of them all.

The dramatic blast capped the Giants' incredible charge to the pennant after they had trailed the Dodgers by 13-1/2 games as late as Aug. 11. Beginning on Aug. 12, the Giants won 16 straight games and went 37-7 down the stretch to tie the Dodgers at season's end. In the playoff series that ensued, the Giants won the first game, 3-1, on a two-run fourth-inning homer by Thomson off Branca, and the Dodgers came back to win the second game, 10-0, behind the six-hit pitching of Clem Labine.

That set the stage for the deciding game, which the Dodgers led 4-1 going into the ninth inning. But Dodger starter Don Newcombe tired in the ninth, surrendering a leadoff infield single to Alvin Dark, another single to Don Mueller, and then, after Monte Irvin fouled out, a two-run opposite field double by Whitey Lockman. On the play, Mueller severely sprained his ankle sliding into third and as he was attended to and finally removed from the game for pinch-runner Clint Hartung. Dodger manager Charlie Dressen summoned Branca from the bullpen to replace Newcombe with Thomson coming to the plate. "The delay really helped me," Thomson later said. "I walked out to talk to (Giants manager) Leo (Durocher) and he said: 'If you ever hit one, hit one now.' I could see he was plenty excited, too, and I calmed down a bit.

"On my way back to the plate, I said to myself: 'You're a pro. Act like one!'"

Like Newcombe, Branca had been used extensively as Dressen desperately sought to hold off the surging Giants, and after pitching 1-1/3 innings of relief in the last game of the season and eight more innings the next day as the Dodgers' starter in the Game 1 of the playoff, he didn't expect to be called on again two days later. But when Dressen called down to the bullpen, Clyde Sukeforth, the bullpen coach, reported that Carl Erskine had bounced a ball in the dirt, and the Dodger manager told him to send in the burly righthander instead.

 

To say his name - Bobby Thomson - was to resurrect the memory of a moment, a moment of sports history elevated into transcendence by a city's primordial currents.

There was nothing so special about Bobby Thomson in the life of New York as things went before the midpoint of the 20th century. He was an immigrant from Scotland during a wave of European immigration. He lived on Staten Island. He played ball. He was good enough for the majors, above average but not great.

 

But then came the moment. An outfielder for the New York Giants, he came to the plate in the team's home field of the Polo Grounds, Oct. 3, 1951, bottom of the ninth in the game that would decide whether the Giants, of upper Manhattan, or the Dodgers, of Brooklyn, won the National League pennant.

On the mound for the Dodgers was, of course, Ralph Branca. And there the ball went, off Bobby Thomson's bat and over the left field wall, as announcer Russ Hodges brought ecstasy and desolation with the call, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"

Robert Brown Thomson, then and forever, in life and now death at 86, the man who hit the Shot Heard 'Round the World, and immortal for having done so.




Obit

Robert "Bobby" Brown Thomson passed away peacefully Monday evening, Aug. 16, 2010, on Skidaway Island in Savannah, Ga. He was 86. Contrary to the initial press reports, Bobby had not been ill the past few years but had been struggling with health issues over the past few months. Bobby was born in Glasgow, Scotland on Oct. 25, 1923, the youngest of six children. His family emigrated from Scotland to the U.S. when he was two and came through Ellis Island before settling on Staten Island in New York. He grew up playing sandlot baseball but was very disappointed not to make the cut on the freshman baseball team at Curtis High in Staten Island. However, he persevered and his baseball career ultimately led to the major leagues. He played in an era when baseball was truly the national pastime. Rivalries between teams were serious business and taking a family to the ballpark was not cost-prohibitive. While Bobby was best-known for hitting what has been called "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" for the Giants on Oct. 3, 1951, he was proud of a baseball career that spanned 17 years. After retiring from baseball in 1960, Bobby and his family lived in Watchung, N.J. He began his life after baseball working for Westvaco in New York City as a sales representative. His integrity, work ethic, and warm demeanor were just a few of the qualities that endeared him to his clients. After Westvaco sold the division in which Bobby worked to Stone Container, many of Bobby's former clients requested his continued services. Stone Container later merged with Smurfit and Bobby eventually retired from Smurfit-Stone. Bobby's strong value system and humble upbringing dictated how he lived his life. To "do what is right" was a common phrase that he often used with his children. He was always a gentleman and treated everyone with respect and dignity and always had a positive outlook on life. Despite losing his wife, Elaine, to a very aggressive form of cancer in 1993 and then the very sudden death of his 38-year-old son, Bobby Thomson Jr., in 2001, he still maintained an unwavering cheerfulness and appreciation for life. He was loyal to baseball and his fans and personally answered all his fan mail, which at times seemed overwhelming to his family. He was always willing to help out whenever asked - whether it be speaking, signing autographs for charity, throwing out baseballs, attending events or reading books to first graders. Bobby was very proud of his work with the New Jersey Arthritis Foundation and hosted an annual golf tournament at the Plainfield Country Club to raise funds. For more than two decades, Bobby Thomson was also a devoted friend and spokesman for Tomorrows Children's Fund (TCF) at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center. He was a frequent visitor to the young patients who were fighting cancer but also assisted the foundation in so many of its fundraising activities. In addition, he also served as a Watchung City Council member and was part of the Optimist Club in Watchung. One of his most cherished memories occurred on Oct. 3, 2001, which was the 50th anniversary of his home run. The celebration at the Giants stadium in San Francisco was postponed out of respect for our nation's tragedy. Instead, he and Ralph Branca visited the firehouses around Ground Zero in New York City to offer some cheer and support to those who had lost so many heroes. This visit was something that profoundly affected him for the rest of his life. In 2006, Bobby left his home of 46 years to move to Savannah, Ga., where he could be closer to his daughter and son-in-law. While moving into a new area after so much time in Watchung was a little concerning. Bobby's personality soon earned him a whole new group of friends - both at The Marshes and The Landings on Skidaway Island. He was also proud to join a great group of guys known as The 1-2-3 Club, who meet every week in a Southside-Savannah restaurant. Bobby Thomson was a humble, living legend; a father; an uncle; a Big Bob, and a Pop-Pop to his loving family. He set an example for all to do what is right and he will be dearly missed by all who loved him. Bobby was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine, and his son, Bobby, and is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Thomson Mitchell of Savannah, Ga., and Megan Thomson Armstrong of Milford, N.J.; former daughter-in-law, Judy Ellis Thomson, plus six grandchildren, Megan Mitchell of Torquay, Victoria, Australia; Coley Mitchell of Charlotte, N.C., Lexi, Taylor and William Armstrong of Milford, N.J. and Reagan Thomson of Bedminster, N.J. Bobby is also survived by his sister, Ruby Beattie of Aurora, Ohio, and numerous nephews and nieces. There will be two memorial services. The first will be in Savannah, Ga., at the Skidaway Island Methodist Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28. The second memorial service will be in Watchung, N.J. at the Wilson Memorial Church on Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to one of Bobby's most-cherished charities, The Tomorrows Children's Fund, 30 Prospect Ave., Hackensack, N.J. 07601. Fox and Weeks Funeral Directors, Savannah, Ga., is in charge of the arrangements. - 

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