Ralph Branca, the Brooklyn Dodger whose pitch Bobby Thomson hit for the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in a 1951 National League playoff game, died Wednesday at the age of 90.
The news of his death was shared by his son-in-law, former Mets manager Bobby Valentine on Twitter.
One of the greatest guys to ever throw a pitch or sing a song is longer with us. Ralph Branca Passed this morning.— Bobby Valentine (@BobbyValentine) November 23, 2016
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In his 91st year on Earth he left us with same dignity and grace that defined his everyday on earth. He will be truly missed!!!— Bobby Valentine (@BobbyValentine) November 23, 2016
The Dodgers and then-New York Giants played in a playoff game on Oct. 3, 1951, at the Polo Grounds.
Branca was pitching to Thomson, with two men on base, when this occurred:
Russ Hodges' call of "The Giants win the pennant ... The Giants win the pennant ... " is one of the most iconic in baseball history.
The home run ended a best-of-three playoff series and gave the Giants a 5-4 victory. They had entered the ninth inning trailing, 4-1.
The Giants went on to lose the World Series that season to the Yankees in six games.
Rather than become defined by the stigma of throwing the pitch, Branca embraced it. He became great friends with Thomson, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 86.
They became an unlikely and charming tandem, tied together by one pitch in baseball history.
Branca, a three-time All-Star, spent the first 10 seasons of his big-league career with the Dodgers. He also pitched for the Tigers and Yankees. Branca had a career record of 88-68 with a 3.79 ERA.