Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
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 email@example.com.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Mandela remained loyal to the rogue leaders and regimes that backed him through the many years he’d been imprisoned: Cuba’s Castro, Libya’s Khaddafi and the PLO’s Arafat.
Hebrew Academy (RASG) has announced that Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, will be the keynote speaker at the Hebrew Academy Annual Event.
Chai Lifeline Southeast’s first venture into the art world, “Through the Eyes of Our Children,” an exhibit and sale at Gallery Art in Aventura, was part of the organization’s Chai Crafts program, an innovative art therapy endeavor sponsored by the Root Foundation.
This year was memorable for the energy of all the participants who, along with Avraham Fried and the members of his orchestra and the YBO Band, joyously sang and danced in the rain. Fried performed with chassidishe warmth and humor. The night was so meaningful and so mesmerizing, the audience didn’t want it to end.
The Preserve at Palm-Aire, a local senior living community, recently donated more than 180 eco-friendly, sturdy and reusable tote bags to the Broward County Jewish Family Services (JFS).
This is the story of a Holocaust survivor who began her odyssey in Dej, Romania. Chanele Anne Grun Kempler was a teenager when she came to Auschwitz, almost 20 when she immigrated to Montreal and became a famous artist, and 64 when she passed away, alone in her bed, in 1994, on her chest a letter from Yad Vashem informing her that the painting she offered to the organization would be admitted and displayed.
It’s not that I think contractors, painters and tile guys are exclusively greedy, deceitful incompetent people – I think they are just poor businessmen or women!
I look into the flickering flames of the Shabbos candles and I am thankful for the warmth and light that emanates from them and illuminates our home.
What is the origin of the custom to eat Seudah Shlishis in shul?
Widow of world-famous nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Dr. Andre Sakharov, and an outstanding activist in her own right, Yelena Bonner was invited to speak of the suffering she endured in Stalinist Russia. Instead, the 86-year-old leader of the Russian human rights movement chose to speak about Israel and the Jews. Why?
I wonder why bullying exists in our community and in society at large? I was very surprised at a 30-year-old client’s explanation.
The rebbe had told Meir and Yehudah to take turns, but that wasn’t working out so well.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
The World Series was born 110 years ago. So were the New York Yankees, as New York inherited the remnants of the old Baltimore Orioles, a charter member of the new American League that was formed in 1901. A year later the team was headed to last place and bankruptcy. Manager John McGraw jumped to the National League New York Giants to assume the same position and brought some Orioles players with him.
Rewind eight decades to 1933.
That year marked the rise of the greatest villain of our time and the biggest Jewish sports hero of all time.
The year 1973 was an interesting one indeed.
Forty years ago, the Conservative movement’s commission on law and standards adopted a new regulation admitting women into the traditional minyan.
“I had to grow a tough little hide as everybody was fair game to be razzed and needled.”
Rewind sixty years to 1953.
Television was considered kosher by most and featured the likes of Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, George Burns, Red Buttons, Perry Como, Arthur Godfrey, Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger, Dinah Shore, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Jack Webb as Joe Friday on “Dragnet” and many others who provided great memories.
Readers of my monthly Baseball Insider column may have noticed its absence last week (the column appears in the second issue of every month). The reason for that is I have something more serious and personal to share with you, something that didn’t seem appropriate for a baseball column.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/remembering-bobby-thomson/2010/09/07/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: