Shot Heard ‘Round the World: Giants Win the Pennant

New York Giants' Bobby Thomson, at bat, hits a home run to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a National League playoff game on Oct. 3, 1951, in New York.
New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson, at bat, hits a home run to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a National League playoff game on Oct. 3, 1951, in New York. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1951, Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants hit one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.

Here are some things you may not have known about “The Shot Heard ’Round the World.”

On August 10, 1951, the Brooklyn Dodgers led the New York Giants in the National League standings by 12 1/2 games.

The Giants won 16 consecutive games between August 12 and 27 to cut the Dodgers’ margin to six games. On September 20, the Giants remained 4 1/2 games behind, with seven games to play.

The Giants won the remaining seven games while the Dodgers lost six of their last 10 games. The two teams finished the schedule with identical 96-58 records.

The tie-breaking procedure in the National League at the time was a three-game playoff. The Dodgers won the coin toss and elected to play the first game at home and the second two on the road, thinking that they would likely win in Brooklyn and need to win only one of the last two games in Manhattan.

Waiting for the winner was the American League champion Yankees.

However, the Giants ended up winning the first game 3-1, on home runs by Bobby Thomson and Monte Irvin. The Dodgers won the second game 10-0 on homers by Jackie Robinson, and Gil Hodges, among others.

Millions tuned in for the deciding game, which was the first broadcast nationally on television.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Jackie Robinson’s RBI single. The Giants tied the game at 1-1 in the seventh on Thomson’s sacrifice fly that scored Irvin. The Dodgers added three runs in the eighth and took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Giants cut the margin to 4-2 on Whitey Lockman’s RBI double. With runners on second and third and one out, Dodgers manager Chuck Dressen removed starting pitcher Don Newcombe in favor of Ralph Branca, who had started, and lost, the first game of the series.

Up to the plate stepped Bobby Thomson. Branca’s first pitch was on the inside corner for a strike. The second was a fastball high and inside. Thomson swung at it and hit it into the stands down the left field line for the game-winning home run.


The radio call by Russ Hodges, which you just heard, has been described as the most famous call in American sports history.

The Giants moved on to face the Yankees in the World Series, which started the next day. The Yankees won the series four games to two.

The Giants and Dodgers would leave New York for California after the 1957 season. The Giants moved to San Francisco and the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Our question: Who was scheduled to be the next batter for the Giants if Thomson hadn’t ended the game with his home run?


Today is German Unity Day, National Day in Iraq and National Foundation Day in South Korea.

It’s unofficially Child Health Day, World Architecture Day, and National Boyfriend Day.

It’s the birthday of writer Gore Vidal, who was born in 1925; musician Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was born in 1954; and singer Gwen Stefani, who is 47 today.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1964, the top song in the U.S. was “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison.

The No. 1 movie was “Mary Poppins,” while the novel “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” by John Le Carre topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

Who originally coined the phrase “shot heard ’round the world” in 1837?


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