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Surviving the dinger that made history

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

With the National League pennant on the line, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca was facing the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson, a dangerous hitter.

Branca threw a high fastball.

That’s when Thomson hit a legendary home run, a game-ending, pennant-clinching three-run clout into the stands at the Polo Grounds. That 1951 homer lives on as “the shot heard round the world.”  

Branca, 25 years old at the time, received catcalls and death threats. He was hanged in effigy from Brooklyn lampposts.

But there was one moment of grace after that blow.

As he sobbed on the clubhouse steps, “hiding my face in shame,” a fellow Dodger, Jackie Robinson, reached out to him.

“My teammates thought it best to leave me alone,” Branca remembered. “Only my dear friend Jackie, who knew me so well, came over and put his arm around my shoulder. ‘Ralph,’ he said, ‘try not to take it personally. If it weren’t for you, we would have never made it this far.’”

— Adapted from “Pitcher who gave up ‘shot heard round the world’,” Paul Duggan, The Washington Post.

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