Bobby Thomson was the Glasgow-born baseball star who enjoyed a brilliant career in the US and attained global fame for hitting ‘the shot heard round the world’.
Born in Scotland in 1923, Bobby moved to New York City with his family when he was two and grew up on Staten Island, where he signed for the New York Giants straight from High School in 1942.
America’s involvement in World War II interrupted his baseball career as he trained as a bombardier with the Air Force. However, he played at semi-professional level while awaiting his discharge and soon picked up a bat again for the Giants.
Nicknamed ‘The Staten Island Scot’, he hit 29 home runs in his rookie year and soon established himself as a talented outfielder and right-handed batter. In 1951 he hit a career-high 32 home runs – the fifth-best in the Majors – and had the fourth-highest slugging average that year.
But the best was still to come, and on 3 October, 1951, his last-gasp home run gave the New York Giants a dramatic 5-4 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning them the National League pennant. The feat was dubbed ‘the shot heard round the world’ and assured Bobby a place in baseball folklore.
The subsequent World Series was something of an anti-climax, with the Giants swept aside 4-2 by the Yankees. But Bobby had made his mark and his bat is still on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in New York.
He was voted a Major League Baseball All-Star in 1948, 1949 and 1952 and after leaving the Giants, played for the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. He spent his final season in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants in 1963, and retired having clocked up 264 home runs.
After leaving baseball, he worked for a paper products company. He died in Skidaway Island, Georgia, in 2010, aged 86.
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