Yesterday, when writing here about three notable deaths that occurred while MNB was on a brief Thanksgiving hiatus, we actually forgot a fourth - the passing of Ralph Branca, the former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher (who also over the course of his career played for the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees), who died last week at age 90 in a Rye, New York, nursing home.
- KC's View:
Everything you need to know about Ralph Branca - beyond the fact that he was a three-time All Star with a .564 winning percentage and 3.79 ERA over 12 seasons in a career shortened by injury - can be summed up by two important events in his career.
By far, the more famous was when he gave up the winning home run - "the shot heard 'round the world" - to Bobby Thompson of the New York Giants in the final game of the best-of-three 1951 National League tie-breaker series. But while Branca was excoriated by Dodger fans for giving up the homer, he became friends with Thompson over the years and behaved as a gentleman even when it became evident that the Giants had been stealing signs during the series.
But even more important was the day in 1947 - Opening Day of the baseball season - when Branca lined up before the game with rookie Jackie Robinson, even when other players would not. I've always felt that Jackie Robinson, was one of the most important people of the 20th century, but the willingness of people like Branca to stand up for his rights cannot be forgotten.