Robert Brown "Bobby" Thomson (born October 25, 1923 in Glasgow, Scotland), nicknamed The Staten Island Scot, is a Scottish-American former Major League Baseball outfielder and right-handed batter who played for the New York Giants (1946-53, 1957), Milwaukee Braves (1954-57), Chicago Cubs (1958-59), Boston Red Sox (1960) and Baltimore Orioles (1960).
Thomson became a celebrity for hitting a walkoff home run in a playoff game, off of Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, to win the 1951 National League pennant. The home run (nicknamed the "Shot Heard 'Round the World") is perhaps the most famous in baseball history. The baseball hit by Thomson provides a central motif in Don DeLillo's novel Underworld.
This event was even more dramatic than it may seem to the modern sports observer, as league pennants were not routinely decided by playoff until 1969 and only occurred in years in which teams finished the regular season in a tie, as had happened in 1951.
The home run was an exclamation point on a dramatic season for the Giants. Although some had considered them a pre-season favorite to win the pennant, they faltered badly in the early going. On August 11, they were 13 1/2 games behind the league-leading Dodgers. But the Giants went on a late-season tear, winning 37 of their final 45 games (beginning with a 16-game winning streak) to tie the Brooklyn team on the final day of the season and force the three-game playoff.
The teams split the first two games, forcing the decisive contest on October 3rd at the Polo Grounds. The Dodgers took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Giants' cause appeared lost. But Thomson's homer turned what looked like a certain defeat into a 5-4 victory. The moment was immortalized by the famous call of Giants play-by-play announcer Russ Hodges who cried, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
Waiting to hit behind Thomson in the on deck circle was a young man who would hit a few home runs of his own: rookie Willie Mays.
Thomson remained with the Giants through the 1953 season. That winter, he was sent to the Milwaukee Braves in a multi-player deal. His career intersected with another of the game's all-time greats in 1954. During his first spring training with the Braves, he suffered a broken ankle. The injury allowed rookie Hank Aaron, the future home run king, to earn a place in the Milwaukee lineup.
The Braves traded Thomson back to the Giants during the 1957 season, and he was in the lineup for the club's final game at the Polo Grounds (September 29, 1957) The Giants moved to San Francisco for the 1958 season, but Thomson was gone, traded to the Cubs. He spent two seasons in Chicago, before closing out his career in the American League with the Red Sox and Orioles.
Scottish baseball team, the Edinburgh Diamond Devils, named their home "Bobby Thomson Field." It was opened by the man himself in 2003, while he was in Scotland to be inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame
- Baseball Library
- Baseball-Reference.com - Major league career statistics
- The Sporting News' Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: The Shot Heard 'Round the World