Home Sports Decades later, ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’ remains resonant New York call

Decades later, ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’ remains resonant New York call

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This week The Post takes a fresh look at the “best of” New York sports history — areas that are just as worthy of debate, but that haven’t been argued incessantly. Today’s edition: the best broadcast call in New York sports history.

“Bobby Thomson, up there swinging …”

The greatest broadcasting call in New York sports history, as voted by The Post’s staff, occurred on Oct. 3, 1951 at the Polo Grounds.

Nearly seven decades later, it has held up because New York Giants’ play-by-play man Russ Hodges met the moment of the “Shot Heard ’Round the World,” when Bobby Thomson hit a three-run, game-winning home run off Brooklyn’s Ralph Branca.

For a call to resonate for all time, it has to connect with its most passionate fans and become a part of the sports vernacular. They have to feel it, live it and then pass it down like an heirloom.

In ’51, the Giants were the third team in town behind the Yankees and Dodgers. But the underdog Giants had come back from a 13¹/₂-game August deficit to tie the Dodgers and force the best-of-three playoff. In Game 3, they were down two runs in the ninth.

“Branca throws …”

To truly understand what happened next, you have to find those who lived it.

Gary Mintz, John Barr, Harvey Weinberg, Lee Lowenfish and Carmine Magazino are all members of the New York Giants Preservation Society.

While Mintz is 59, Barr, Weinberg, Lowenfish and Magazino are in their 70s and 80s. You can hear their schoolboy pride as they were young Giants fans in a sea of Yankee and Dodger supporters.

“As New York Giant fans, we didn’t have that many great thrills,” said 78-year-old Lowenfish, a sports author, who heard the call as a 9-year-old in Midtown Manhattan.

bobby thomson shot heard round world call play by play
With the Brooklyn Dodgers leading 4-2 in the last half of the ninth inning, Bobby Thomson hit a homer into the left field stands with two men on base, to give the Giants a 5-4 victory and the National League pennant. In a storybook finish to the playoff series for the pennant, happy and hysterical Giant fans carry Thomson on their shoulders and fight to shake his hand following his dynamite homer.Bettman

Way before Mike & the Mad Dog, in arguments on the playground, Giants fans would say how their ’51 rookie, Willie Mays, was better than Yankee rookie Mickey Mantle. Dodgers fans
would chime in with their veteran, Duke Snider.

“There’s a long fly …”

There was some luck involved in Hodges even making the radio call. Hodges and fellow future Hall of Fame play-by-play man Ernie Harwell were the Giants announcers that year.

They had been flipping between doing the national TV broadcast and the local radio. For the end of Game 3, Hodges was alone in the WMCA-AM booth and had a “wicked cold,” according to his autobiography.

Harwell thought he had the better assignment with the larger audience and the glamor of TV for the finale.

On NBC in the ninth, Harwell, a pro’s pro, appropriately let the pictures tell the story, simply saying, “Thomson swings … it’s gone.” He laid out, with the video telling the
rest.

The famed Red Barber had the call on the Dodgers’ station, WMGM-AM. Barber was more straightforward as the ball went over the wall: “It is a home run! And the New York Giants
win the National League pennant and the Polo Ground goes wild!”

Barber then stayed silent for a minute, letting the crowd fill the radio.

Meanwhile, on the Liberty Broadcasting System, Gordon McLendon said the same “The Giants win the pennant!” exclamation, but the call did not have the fame of Hodges’ version.

As Hodges worked toward the crescendo, he lent into the imagination that makes baseball so great to consume on radio. The unknown and the anticipation allows a play-by-play man
to own and control the moment.

“It’s gonna be, I believe …”

The Giants fans wanted to believe, but they had been the third team in town for a while. In his Springfield, N.J., home, Barr, a teenager, was anguished.

“I was dying,” said Barr, now 83.

While Barr and other Giants’ fans were listening, the only reason the call has maintained over time is because of someone who didn’t hear it live.

A fan named Lawrence Goldberg had to leave for work and asked his mother, Sylvia, to hit record on his Webcor reel-to-reel machine.

In Hodges’ autobiography, believing Goldberg was a Dodger fan, he thought the tape was made to hear the sorrow in another Giant loss.

In fact, Goldberg would tell the New York Times 50 years later, he was a Giant fan. He hoped to savor a victory. And he did more than that: He preserved history.

“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

There was an excitement in the headline of the call, but there was more to it than just that.

“That was an honest response,” Weinberg, now 74, who was just a 6-year-old in The Bronx. “It is not something that you could have thought of in advance.”

The team announcer call was so personal, but the magnitude of the event was so great the event earned the moniker, “The Shot Heard ’Round the World.”

“I was in ecstasy as a 10-year-old child,” said Magazino, who listened in a tenement house in The Bronx and is now 79.

“Bobby Thomson hit it into the lower deck of the left-field stands … The Giants win the pennant and they’re going crazy … they’re going crazy … Heyyyyyy, hoe!”

“There were four calls, but Hodges, by far, was the most memorable,” said Mintz, the founder of the society, whose love of the Giants was passed down from his father.

Hodges’ “The Giants win the pennant” call is nearly 70 years old and still sounds as exciting as ever.

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