Thomson, who hit "shot heard round the world" dies

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bobby Thomson, who hit one of baseball's most famous home runs, the "shot heard 'round the world" that won the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers, has died at the age of 86.

Thomson, who had been in declining health, died at his home in Savannah, Georgia, on Monday.

The 15-year major leaguer, nicknamed the "Flying Scot", was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and moved to Staten Island, New York, at the age of 2.

"Bobby Thomson will always hold a special place in our game for hitting one of the signature home runs in baseball history," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement Tuesday.

'The Shot Heard 'Round the World' will always remain a defining moment for our game, illustrating the timeless quality of the national pastime."

The famous homer by three-times All-Star Thomson, an outfielder and third baseman, was a three-run shot off Ralph Branca in the ninth inning of the third game of a three-game playoff series that lifted the Giants into the World Series.

Thomson's Polo Grounds blast turned a 4-2 Dodgers lead into a 5-4 Giants win and led to a wild celebration at home plate.

It also inspired one of the best known broadcast calls in U.S. sports when announcer Russ Hodges roared, "The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant!" as chaos broke out on the diamond.

The home run capped an improbable late-season run by the Giants, who finished the regular season in a dead heat with the Dodgers to force the playoff series.

New York had trailed Brooklyn by 13.5 games on Aug 11 before winning 16 straight games on the way to a 37-7 finish that forced a tie.

The Giants won the first game of the series, 3-1, on another Thomson home run off Branca. The Dodgers evened the series by taking the second game, 10-0.

Their other New York city rival, the Yankees, ended the Giants' miracle run by winning the World Series in six games.

Thomson played the majority of his career with the Giants, finishing with a .270 career average and 264 home runs.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

(larry.fine@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646-729-6291. Reuters Messaging: larry.fine.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; For the sports blog Left Field go to: blogs.reuters.com/sport/))

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