The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World by Joshua Prager

The Echoing Green

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Great story for any baseball fan. But especially a great story for any fan of the Giants, Dodgers, Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca or the 1951 national league playoffs.

Prager has done a ton of research and really dug up some great side stories of the above teams, players, and incident. He has gone back quite a ways to explain how each of these participants came to be where they were on that memorable day in 1951.

The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants (as they were still in those areas in 1951 battled each and every year in the 40s and 50s prior to their moves to the west coast). But without a doubt the 1951 battle was the best of all time (unless you were a Dodger fan). Most of the way through August and September the Dodgers had held a lead over the Giants sometimes in double figures but as the final day of the season arrived the two teams ended up in a tie!

The winner of a three game playoff would be the National League Champion and have the honor of meeting the New York Yankees in the World Series. All of metropolitan New York City watched as the Giants won the first game of the playoff but the Dodgers came back and won the second one so it all boiled down to one game.

On October 3, 1951 the third and final game was the first major sporting event televised coast to coast in the U.S. Millions of fans watched and saw the Dodgers with a 4 to 1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. After three straight hits gave the Giants one more run Bobby Thomson came to bat against Ralph Branca of the Dodgers.

This historic matchup put two above average players against each other and it was not their first meeting. They had played against each other and had even roomed together earlier in their careers but this day was to be monumental for both of them.

After Branca got a called strike on the first pitch he threw a fast ball up and in. It was around the height of Thomson’s triceps. Although Thomson preferred low pitches to hit he turned on this high hard one and drove it into the left field stands for a three run homer, a 5 to 4 win, and a pennant for the Giants.

Prager covers all the events leading up to that memorable play and details the careers and lives of both Thomson and Branca. Many facts and many numbers are almost enough to deaden the reader’s mind BUT is there more to the story?

The author really does a job and digs very deeply into the biggest discussion of this memorable play when he begins looking into the rumors of sign stealing and did they or did they not play a part in this historic feat. He follows the supposed perpetrators and then even follows Thomson and Branca in later years as the controversy surrounds them and all of baseball! Did Thomson know it was to be a fast ball or not and did it matter?

Really a great read for baseball fans. Hard to read in places but much harder to put down!

Click Here to Purchase The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World (Vintage)

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