Bobby Thompson, iconic hero of the all-time accomplishment in baseball history, died this year. No team wins the pennant like the Giants win the pennant because of this man's scorching line drive into the left field bleachers of the Polo Grounds in 1951. Every Giants fan grows up hearing Russ Hodges bleating "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! I don't believe it! I do not believe it!" and it is seared into the mind as a reminder of what once was, and what we have missed since moving west.
The Scottish-born Thompson passed this year in the middle of the worst stretch of baseball this team would play. When I learned of his passing I couldn't help but feel a deep loss. I never met the guy, and have no idea what his character was like, but Thompson's "Shot Heard Round the World," represents so much of why I am Giants fan. The '51 Giants rallied from way back in late August (this team 2010 was down quite a bit in late August). They kicked the Dodgers' ass (which we like to do any year we can). They captured the attention of the entire nation (like ours has with our freakish collection of rag-tag personalities)... without Bobby Thompson we may not have San Francisco Giants baseball. Without the NY Giants success in 1951, maybe they would have moved to Minneapolis in the late fifties instead of San Francisco.
The Giants won the pennant in 1951 because of Bobby Thompson. And the Giants won the pennant 59 years later, in the year of his passing. Bobby Thompson, thanks for crushing the exhausted Ralph Branca's lazy fastball into the cheap seats of the Polo Grounds. We won this one for you.