Giant Comeback

On October 3rd, 1951, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers played the third game in a special best-of-three playoff series; though the Dodgers had led the Giants by 13 1/2 games on August 7th, the Giants had notched an incredible 37 and 7 record in their last 44 games to force a tie-breaker.

Though the powerful Dodgers, led by Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, and Gil Hodges, clung to a 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, the Giants got three hits in the bottom of the inning to close the score to 4-2. With runners on second and third and one out, Dodgers manager Chuck Dressen called Ralph Branca from the bullpen to replace Don Newcombe and face Bobby Thomson (who had homered off Branca to win the first playoff game).

The raspy voice of famed Giants commentator Russ Hodges rose to compete with 34,320 clamoring fans:

"Bobby Thomson up there swinging. 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 call 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 to 2. Hartung down the line at third, not taking any chances. Lockman without too big a lead at second--but he'll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one...

"Branca throws... There's a long drive! It's going to 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 going crazy! They're going crazy! Oh-ho... [silence in the booth, pandemonium in the background]

"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 whole place is going crazy! The Giants--Horace Stoneham is now a winner--the Giants won it by a score of 5 to 4, and they're picking Bobby Thomson up and carrying him off the field!"

Incredibly, the classic radio recording barely survived. "We didn't tape things back then," broadcaster Ernie Harwell recalled years later. "Russ got it in the mail that winter, months after the season ended. And he got it--if you can possibly believe this--from a Dodgers fan!"

Why had the man caught Hodges on tape? Ironically enough, Harwell explained, "for the sole purpose of hearing him cry!"

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