Tag Archives: New York Giants

Bobby Thomson had another notable walk-off

You know Bobby Thomson’s most famous home run as the ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ that gave the Giants the 1951 NL pennant against the Dodgers.

But let’s talk briefly about Thomson’s second-most notable home run.

This came the season after the famous one, on June 16, 1952 against the Cardinals. This was a Giants team without their young standout, Willie Mays, who missed most of that year after being drafted into the Army. Thomson was among those providing thump in Mays absence, though he entered the day in an 0-for-13 slump.

The Giants jumped on the Cardinals for a 3-0 lead, keyed by home runs from Davey Williams and Alvin Dark. But the Cardinals scored seven of the next eight runs. Food was a theme to their offensive output. Del Rice drove in two runs. Peanuts Lowrey had an RBI.

Jokes aside, the Cardinals took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Rice grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the ninth, else it might have been worse. It was the fifth double play turned by the Giants.

The Giants then went to work in the bottom of the ninth assembling a miracle. Hank Thompson (my father’s favorite) led off with a walk. One out later, Williams singled and Whitey Lockman’s walk loaded the bases.

By this time, Thomson was 0-for-4 and in an 0-for-17 slump overall. This made for quite the predicament for Cardinals rookie pitcher Willard Schmidt, the third pitcher of the inning. His stint lasted one pitch.

Thomson crushed it over the left field fence for a walk-off grand slam. It wasn’t quite ‘The Giants win the Pennant’ but it’s good to know that Bobby Thomson is not a one-note walk-off wonder.

This walk-off is holiday-appropriate

The 1908 baseball season is best known for Merkle’s boner, a baserunning mishap by a player on the New York Giants that cost them a game that had they won, would have given them enough wins to win the NL pennant. Instead, the Cubs triumphed over the Giants in the season’s final game to take the flag. They’d go on to win the World Series.

But there was a lot of other stuff that led up to that point, including one game I just read about it that I’ll share here.

It was the Giants’ home opener against the Brooklyn Dodgers (then known as the Superbas) on April 22, 1908. It was a highly eager crowd of more than 25,000 in the Polo Grounds, a challenging group to keep in line because the stands were not equipped to hold that many people. In fact, the some of the crowd overflowed onto the field in center field (this is a totally unimaginable scenario today).

This led to some interesting obstacles. A Superbas player hit what should have been an inside-the-park home run into the mass of extra spectators, but
It was ruled a ground-rule double. The fans on the field grew larger in volume as the game went along, forcing the outfielders to play shallower than usual. The Giants benefited from this in the eighth inning when Fred Merkle (for whom the boner was named) hit a double into the fan contingent, a ball that should have been caught, according to the wonderful resource that is the Brooklyn Eagle.

The Superbas led 2-1 after 8 ½ innings. Merkle hit another of what was called a “phony double” in the ninth, but was thrown out at the plate later in the inning trying to score the tying run.

The game came down to Mike Donlin’s at-bat with a man on base. Donlin was a hitting star. He finished his career with a .333 batting average. He had returned to the team after sitting out a season in a contract dispute. He would later take an interest in theatre and perform in plays and movies.

Anyways, Donlin had a flare for the dramatic on this day, as he clubbed a two-run home run against Harry McIntire. More than 5,000 fans stormed the field to celebrate the win and make the romp around the bases with Donlin, who arrived home safely.

“The Giants had all the luck, all the time,” wrote one Eagle reporter.

So why am I sharing the story with you today of all days?

Donlin was a cocky fellow who walked around with a healthy strut. That earned him an appropriate nickname.

Turkey Mike.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!