web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Remembering Bobby Thomson


Those of us who were around then will never forget that afternoon 59 years ago.

 

It was after school and I was watching the end of the final game of the Dodgers/Giants playoffs with three of my young yeshiva elementary school classmates at my house. Brooklyn broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth inning by scoring three runs, causing my friends to give up on the Giants and trot out to the playground.

 

I decided to stick with the Giants. After all, they’d been some thirteen and a half games behind the Dodgers on August 12. A 16-game winning streak propelled the Giants to win 39 of their last 47 games and tie Brooklyn after the last regular season game, forcing a three-game playoff.

 

It came down to the final inning of the final game and I was still fascinated by the big, boxy black-and-white television with the small screen capturing the proceedings from the horseshoe-shaped Polo Grounds across the Harlem River from Yankee Stadium.

 

The Giants opened their last inning with two singles before Monte Irvin popped out. Whitey Lockman doubled to score a run, which sent a runner to third and pitcher Don Newcombe to the showers. With the score 4-2 and runners on second and third, Dodgers manager Charlie Dressen brought in pitcher Ralph Branca to face Bobby Thomson.

 

Thomson battered the third pitch he saw that late afternoon, sending Brooklyn into mourning. It became the most historic, most meaningful home run ever hit. It won the pennant for the Giants and ended the season for the Dodgers.

 

Ernie Harwell, a broadcaster for the Giants at the time, voiced the events for NBC on national television while Russ Hodges’s famous local radio call survived the years because a fan decided to tape Thomson’s at-bat on his big reel-to-reel tape recorder.

 

 

Irwin Cohen took this photo of Bobby Thomson as they chatted

on the eve of the 1983 All Star game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

 

 

The home run turned Thomson into an iconic hero and branded Ralph Branca. No two players would ever handle their roles in history better. Their linkage became the basis of a great friendship.

 

When Thomson died at 86 recently, Branca used words like, “kind,” “gentle,” “thoughtful” and “humble” to describe Thomson’s makeup. I met Thomson a couple of times on the baseball beat and was always impressed with his demeanor. He had time for everybody, was engaging, well dressed, and always had a smile.

 

   Besides the famous playoff home run, Thomson hit 32 round-trippers in 1951, posted 101 RBI and batted .293, so he was a lot more than a one-time hero. He hit 264 homers over a 15-year big-league career that included stays with the Milwaukee Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Orioles and another stint with the Giants. His teammates included Hall of Famers Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Ernie Banks, Ted Williams and Brooks Robinson.

 

*     *     *

 

A great addition to my baseball DVD collection is “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.”

 

The 91-minute presentation narrated by Academy Award winning actor Dustin Hoffman, features numerous interviews with former Jewish players – including Sandy Koufax, who rarely dies this sort of thing.

 

 Also included are interviews with people no longer with us such as Hank Greenberg. The interviews and recollections include excellent newsreel footage. I consider myself a historian and own over a hundred hours of old newsreel and other footage on DVD’s but this included some I had never seen before.

 

Also great is the showing of each of Shawn Green’s four home runs in one game, fantastic interviews of Al Rosen, who like Koufax ended his career much too early. Marv Rotblatt, one of my favorite Jewish players of the Bobby Thomson era, talks about being the smallest pitcher in the big leagues and pitching to Ted Williams.

 

The one tiny error was when narrator Hoffman said the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1958 season (t was a year earlier). If I were directing, I would have changed the nightclub-type female singer doing her rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the showing of the ending credits and would have substituted Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly doing their Vaudeville song and dance routine from the 1949 movie “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

 

“Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” is distributed by 7th Art Releasing; its publicity is being handled by PR maven Marty Appel.

 

 

 

The author of seven books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before embarking on a front office career earning a World Series ring. Cohen, who is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

About the Author: Author, columnist, and lecturer Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and worked in a front office position for a major league team, becoming the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. He can be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Remembering Bobby Thomson”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked radical Islamist Al-Nusra rebel group in Syria.
Sources: Al Qaeda Bombed Hezbollah and Framed Israel
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

More Articles from Irwin Cohen
Baseball-logo-NEW

The Mets at least have hope for the future with some good young pitchers.

Baseball-logo-NEW

The big news this spring is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals will be leaving their old spring homes north of Port St. Lucie and moving south to a beautiful new complex scheduled to open in two years in West Palm Beach.

A famous face from that first ’52 Topps set was Alvin Dark, who died in his South Carolina home recently at 92.

As the years flew by, one thing remained constant in Sid’s life – the New York Yankees.

During 1939, anti-Semitic groups such as Fritz Kuhn’s German American Bund held rallies in New York and other major cities across the country.

The two World Series combatants, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, were Wild Card teams (meaning they didn’t win their respective divisions) that got hot at the right time.

Many former baseball players who left us with happy memories also passed away in the past year.

“No kid is worth a million dollars to sign,” Newhouser said, “but if one kid is, it’s this kid.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/remembering-bobby-thomson/2010/09/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: