The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

Everybody knows the story of the so-called “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” the home run that New York Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson hit off Brooklyn Dodgers hurler Ralph Branca on October 3, 1951, to send the Giants to the World Series.

That, after an amazing final two weeks of the season that saw the Giants make up a six-game deficit to force a three-game playoff with the mighty Dodgers.

What sometimes gets lost in the excitement of that mad dash to the Fall Classic, and Thomson’s in-the-moment heroics, was that he was a bona fide All-Star player who regularly picked up MVP votes.

In the 1951 season, for example, Thomson smacked a career-high 32 home runs and drove in 101 runs. All told, Thomson played 15 years in the Majors, hit .270, connected on 264 homers, and drove in more than 1000.

Thomson’s 1951 Bowman card has become a classic because it’s not only beautiful but evokes instant memories of that storied season and historic moment in the Polo Grounds.

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Willie Sets the Record … Again

Fourteen years to the day after Thomson shocked the whole world, his young rookie teammate from that fateful season got the Giants to within two games of the World Series, falling short of the Dodgers by two games.

It all tested familiar …

Except, by 1965, the Dodgers were in Los Angeles and the Giants were in San Francisco.

On the last day of the season, Mays hit his 52nd home run, against the Reds at Candlestick Park. That broke his own club record that he had established back in 1955, and cemented him as the National League MVP.

Mays’ 1965 Topps card has become a classic and synonymous with the legend’s last truly legendary season.

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Clemente Ends with 3000 … Exactly

The same year Mays was setting his Giants record for the first time — 1955, that is — young rightfielder Roberto Clemente was putting together a modest first year for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Clemente’s first few years in the National League would be fairly uninspiring, in fact, but by the time the Bucs were ready to contend at the start of the 1960s, Clemente was ready to be their superstar.

Over the next 13 seasons (1960-72) Clemente would make 12 National League All-Star teams and snag 12 Gold Gloves. Oh, and win the 1966 NL MVP Award, and batting titles in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967.

And, generally seal his spot in Cooperstown.

On September 29, 1972, Clemente banged out hit number 3000 in his final at-bat of a game against the Mets, further cementing his legend. That double off Jon Matlack to lead off the fourth turned out to be Clemente’s last hit … ever … before a New Year’s Eve plane crash notoriously claimed his life.

Clemente would play in the Pirates’ five-game loss to the Reds in the 1972 NLCS, but he also gave home fans one last regular-season thrill.

After sitting out on October 1, and not starting on October 3 against the Cardinals, Clemente came in as a defensive replacement in rightfield for the ninth inning. While there, he retrieved a single by Jorge Roque and a double by Mick Kelleher.

Clemente never made another in-season appearance, and his twilight-bound 1973 Topps baseball card became an instant and eerie reminder of his untimely demise.

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Wow! Wax of the Day

Sometimes, the presentation is as good as the meal itself. Take the 1973 Topps wax pack box design, which you can see to good effect in this eBay lot …

Gorgeous stuff, even if the images are a *bit* generic. Check out the full listing on eBay here. (affiliate link)