Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September, 1951

Everyone knows how the '51 pennant race ended, with Bobby Thomson's homer at the Polo Grounds to win a playoff against the Dodgers. Maybe some of you don't know how remarkable the Giants' season was preceding that magic moment.

On August 11 the Dodgers had 13 and a half game lead. The next day the Giants began a 16 game winning streak. They won 37 of their last 44 games, including the last 7 of the regular season, to force the playoff.

The Dodger team was an offensive powerhouse, leading the league in virtually every category. The Giants strength was in their pitching. Both Larry Jansen and Sal Maglie won 23 games.

Monte Irvin (pictured at right) was the hitting star for the Giants that year, leading the NL with 121 RBI.

Here's the transcript of Russ Hodges' immortal call: (Oct 3)

"Bobby Thomson... up there swingin'... He's had two out of three, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third-base line... One out, last of the ninth... Branca pitches... Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner... Bobby hitting at .292... He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center... Brooklyn leads it 4-2...Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances... Lockman with not too big of a lead at second, but he'll be runnin' like the wind if Thomson hits one... Branca throws... [audible sound of bat meeting ball]
"There's a long drive... it's gonna be, I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy! HEEEY-OH!!!'' [ten-second pause for crowd noise]
"I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson... hit a line drive... into the lower deck... of the left-field stands... and this blame place is goin' crazy! The Giants!
Horace Stoneham has got a winner! The Giants won it... by a score of 5 to 4... and they're pickin' Bobby Thomson up... and carryin' him off the field! "
P.S. On deck was the rookie Willie Mays.

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