Eight months after his “shot heard around the world” won the pennant for the Giants, Bobby Thomson shocked the Cardinals with another walkoff home run.
On June 16, 1952, Thomson hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, erasing a 7-4 Cardinals lead and lifting the Giants to an 8-7 victory at the Polo Grounds in New York.
It was Thomson’s first walkoff home run since his three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth on Oct. 3, 1951, at the Polo Grounds. That home run, against the Dodgers’ Ralph Branca, carried the Giants from a 4-2 deficit to a 5-4 triumph in the decisive game of a playoff series to determine the National League champion. Boxscore and video
Though the walkoff grand slam versus the Cardinals didn’t clinch a championship, it had a magic of its own.
Hit and miss
The Monday afternoon game between the Cardinals and Giants was poorly played. Giants pitchers gave up 16 hits, four walks and hit two batters. The Giants also made three errors. The Cardinals could have had more than a three-run lead entering the ninth, but they hit into five double plays and stranded 10.
Rookie right-hander Eddie Yuhas, working his fifth inning in relief of starter Harry Brecheen, was the Cardinals’ pitcher in the bottom of the ninth. He walked the leadoff batter, Hank Thompson.
George Wilson followed with a line drive. Second baseman Red Schoendienst grabbed it backhanded “with a graceful leap to his right,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Schoendienst whirled and fired to first baseman Dick Sisler in an attempt to nail Hank Thompson, who had ventured far off the bag, but the throw was high and wild. Hank Thompson advanced to second on the error.
The next batter, Davey Williams, grounded sharply to right. Schoendienst broke the wrong way and the ball skipped into the outfield for a single, advancing Hank Thompson to third.
Mix and match
With Whitey Lockman, a left-handed batter, coming up next, Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky wanted a left-hander to pitch. Stanky lifted Yuhas and brought in Bill Werle. Lockman walked, loading the bases and bringing Bobby Thomson to the plate.
A right-handed batter, Thomson was hitless in his last 17 at-bats. Stanky, who eight months earlier was the Giants’ second baseman when Thomson hit his walkoff home run against the Dodgers, wanted a right-hander to face his former teammate.
Stanky brought in rookie Willard Schmidt, who earned a save against the Giants the day before.
“Thomson and everybody in the park knew Schmidt, with three on base, was not going to go cute,” The Sporting News noted. “He was coming in with the fastball to get the first strike if possible.”
Sure enough, Schmidt’s first pitch was a fastball. Thomson leaned into it “like a man who knew his business,” United Press International reported.
Far and fair
Thomson pulled the pitch down the left field line, “a vicious, high drive,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
The ball curled around the foul pole and “cleared the left field roof, not more than four feet from the foul line,” the New York Daily News noted.
Augie Donatelli, umpiring at third, carefully followed the ball’s track and signaled the ball stayed fair. Cardinals catcher Del Rice argued otherwise, to no avail.
As Thomson circled the bases and approached the plate following the three runners ahead of him, “it looked like Pennant Day all over again,” the Daily News observed. “The entire team was there to greet him, shake his hand and pound his back.”
Schmidt “stood on the mound as though paralyzed,” the Daily News noted. Boxscore
Fans and media marveled at Thomson’s knack for delivering dramatic endings.
_ “Yes, children, there is a miracle man,” International News Service wrote as its lead to the game story.
_ “This is an act which cannot be improved.” declared The Sporting News.
_ “Had the game been in a World Series or in a crucial pennant stretch drive, the finish would have been immortalized just as was that golden victory that clinched a pennant for the Giants over Brooklyn last October,” United Press International concluded. “As it was, folks who saw it won’t forget it for a long time.”
In his book “The Giants Win The Pennant,” Thomson said, “I can remember leaving the clubhouse early. I was walking across center field and some diehard fans who were still in the stands gave me a great ovation. I’m sure a lot of them were remembering my homer the year before. It was as if I was continuing the heroics.”