October 25, 1923
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|September 9, 1946 for the New York Giants|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 17, 1960 for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Runs batted in||1,026|
|Career highlights and awards|
Robert Brown Thomson (born October 25, 1923), nicknamed The Staten Island Scot, is a Scottish 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 had a superb rookie year in 1947, batting .283 with 29 home runs and 82 RBI for the New York Giants. In 1949, Thomson had career bests in RBI (109) and batting average (.309). In his momentous 1951 season, Bobby Thomson's 32 home runs was a career high for him. It was also 5th best in the Majors; he also had the 4th highest slugging average in baseball that year.
Thomson became a celebrity for hitting a game-winning 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. By mid-August, 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 44 games to tie the Brooklyn team on the final day of the season and force the three-game playoff.
The Dodgers and Giants split the first two games. Thomson’s two run homer off Ralph Branca was the difference in the first game, as the Giants won 3-1. Brooklyn’s Clem Labine shut the Giants down in Game 2, by a score of 10-0. This forced the decisive contest on October 3 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. The Giant’s miracle run ended at the 1951 World Series. The Yankees swept the last three games to win the series 4-games-to-2. Thomson had a mild series, batting .238 without any home runs.
Rumors that the 1951 Giants stole signs en route to the pennant were confirmed in 2001, when several players told the Wall Street Journal that beginning on July 20, 1951, the team used a telescope and buzzer wire to steal the finger signals of opposing catchers careless enough to not protect their signs. Joshua Prager detailed the revelations in a book titled The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and The Shot Heard Round the World. Giant catcher Sal Yvars told Prager that he relayed to Thomson the stolen sign for Branca's fastball. But Thomson denied that he had foreknowledge of the pitch he hit off Branca for the pennant-winning home run.
Bobby Thomson continued to play for the Giants. In 1952, he led the National League with 14 triples, while batting .270 with 24 HRs and 108 RBIs. In his final season with the Giants in 1953, Thomson had 26 HRs, 106 RBI and a .288 average. 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. 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.
A player with a very similar name, Robby Thompson (no relation, and different spelling) had an eleven year career (1986-96) with, concidentally, Bobby's old team, the Giants.
Thomson, the youngest of six children, arrived in the United States at age two with his family; his father, a cabinetmaker, had moved to New York shortly before Bobby's birth and sent for his family later. Raised in the New York City borough of Staten Island, Thomson attended Curtis High School and served in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II and reached the major leagues in 1946. After retiring, he worked for a paper company
Thomson resides in Savannah, Georgia.
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
The UK Chapter of SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research) is named the Bobby Thomson Chapter.