EXPIRED: 08/16/10 – Bobby Thomson, 86, was known as The Flying Scot. The youngest of six children, he moved to Staten Island from Glasgow, Scotland at the age of 2. Twenty-one years later he was a playing in the major leagues.
As an outfielder and right-handed batter, Thomson played for the New York Giants twice, from 1946 til 1953 and again in 1957. In-between, he played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954–57.
As a rookie Thomson batted .283 with 29 home runs and 82 RBI’s. That was 1947 with the Giants. Two years later he had a career best with 109 RBI’s and a .309 batting average. But it was 1951 that was his year. That was when Thomson hit 32 home runs in a single season.
You may not remember the name, but you’ll recognize the call: Thomson hit a game-winning home run off of Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca to win the 1951 National League pennant. The call? The home run was nicknamed “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Nearly every kid who has ever picked up a bat and ball has pretended to make that play.
The game was a tough one. The Dodgers held a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, and there was no hope for the Giants. Thomson stepped up to the plate. And “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” turned the game around to a 5-4 victory for the Giants. Announcer Russ Hodges famously shouted, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
What isn’t known to many is that had Thomson not made that homer, rookie Willie Mays was up next.
Thomson was continually dogged by rumors that there was cheating going on during that fateful game, that Giant catcher Sal Yvars relayed to Thomson the stolen sign for Branca’s fastball and that Thomson knew what was coming and was prepared for it. Thomson denied everything. But his game was never quit e the same. He was later traded from the Chicago Cubs (1958-59), to the Boston Red Sox (1960) to the Baltimore Orioles (1960). In 1963 he played with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.
But all things come round. While Thomson was in Scotland to be inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, the Edinburgh Diamond Devils, dedicated their playing field to him. “The Bobby Thomson Field” was opened for play in 2003.