Era ends, but history lives

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

For baseball fans born between 1960 and 1980, his story was the first you committed to memory.

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

On Monday, that story ended with the death of Bobby Thomson. But the legend lives forever.

08-17-10_Muder_ThomsonB.jpgI can still see the pages of my dog-eared copy of the David S. Neft & Richard M. Cohen World Series encyclopedia. A Christmas gift from my parents in 1979, it provided my first taste of the baseball statistics that would one day fill my mind. In that book, each Fall Classic from 1903 through 1978 is preserved – along with season stats from the two Series teams.

But as a bonus, Neft & Cohen provided box scores and play-by-play of season tiebreakers, including the most famous of them all: The 1951 three-game classic between the Giants and the Dodgers.

It was like finding a dollar in the couch cushions – something extra to be devoured. I poured through those box scores over and over, dreaming of becoming Thomson while agonizing over the fate of Ralph Branca.

No matter what the future holds for baseball, the past will always remain king. That time, that city, that moment, that comeback… It was all too perfect – a scene never to be repeated.

The Autumn Glory exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame serves as a monument to Thomson’s pennant-winning homer with an exhibit dedicated to the Oct. 3, 1951 Shot Heard ‘Round the World. Thomson’s bat, cap and spikes from that day are on display, as well as a rosin bag used by Branca. They serve as a reminder of the greatest homer ever struck in major league competition.

The Museum’s Library also contains a copy of that Neft & Cohen chronology, a book that started so many on the path to baseball adoration.

In so many ways, that path began with a home run by Bobby Thomson.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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