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Oct. 3, 1951

MLB All-Star Game Road Show

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Classic catches up with Bobby Thomson
By Phillip Lee
Special to ESPN Classic

Bobby Thomson will forever be part of baseball lore. Thomson hit the "shot heard 'round the world," a three-run, ninth-inning homer off Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca, which vaulted the New York Giants to the NL pennant on Oct. 3, 1951.
Bobby Thomson
New York Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson, right, hugs manager Leo Durocher after his homer gave the Giants a 5-4 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers and the NL pennant on Oct. 3, 1951.
While Thomson will always be known for his dramatic game-winning homer, he was also a three-time All Star. He went to the mid-summer classic in 1948, 1949 and 1952. These days Thomson spends his time playing golf and helping various charities. Unfortunately, Thomson suffered a great loss when his only son, Bob Jr., passed away recently. ESPN Classic's Phillip Lee recently spoke with Thomson to find out what he's doing.

PHILLIP LEE: What have you been up to?
That's a good question. One of the things that I've been doing is preparing for, I guess it's called, the Bobby Thomson Celebrity Arthritis Golf Tournament coming up in August. It takes a lot of work, a lot of phone calls, to make sure all the right people are there. You have to have celebrities like Yogi Berra and Dave DeBusschere and I could go on. Also I've been trying to play a little golf and answering the usual mail. I don't know if you heard the pretty sad story that happened just a few weeks ago, I lost my son.

PL: No. I'm really sorry to hear that.
He was 38 years old. He was a wonderful young man. He just moved into his first new home. So I guess that would have to be something that has been on my mind. That's taken a lot out of the whole family.

PL: Was he your only son?
Yes. I have two daughters. He was just a fine young man. He and I were buddies. It's just a tragedy. He just received a physical two months prior to his heart just stopping. They're still trying to figure that one out. We're still looking for specific answers. That's been on all our minds, but the world goes on and we still have to go on.

PL: Talk a little about the golf tournament. How long have you been doing it?
This will be our third annual celebrity golf tournament. They gave me a fancy title -- the First Ambassador of the New Jersey chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. I guess as much as I dislike using the word celebrity, I guess I have a bit of celebrity, at least one home run's worth of celebrity. It helps attract attention. That's the way it works.

PL: How did you get involved with the Arthritis Foundation?
Well, they came to me. They thought if I might be able to bring a little bit of attention to the public.

PL: Has it grown every year?
It started out very small the first year. We like about 20 foursomes. We don't want to go crazy with this thing. We want to keep it under good control.

PL: Where is it taking place this year?
It's going to be at Echo Lake in Westfield, N.J. on Aug. 27. Next year, it's going to be at my club, the Plainfield Country Club in Plainfield, N.J.

PL: I understand that HBO is making a film about the 1951 home run.
I saw the screening of the documentary last week at the HBO Studios in New York. I went there and the only thing missing was my son wasn't with me, but I had everybody else in my family there. We really had a nice party. I don't know if I'm the one to judge it whether it was great. It'll be on the day after this year's All-Star game.

PL: Fifty years have passed since that home run, when you see it again does it still give you goose bumps?
That was something different, something special that documentary. It brought back a lot of memories. I saw pictures of myself as a youngster, of my wife, my family from Scotland and that part was pretty exciting.

PL: How special was it to play in an All-Star game?
It's always an honor to be selected to the All-Star team. That must mean you're doing something right. It's special. I didn't set any records in my performances in the All-Star games, but any time players can make the All-Star team, it's an honor.

PL: Talk about your first All-Star appearance in 1948.
That was pretty early in my career. I was up as a pinch hitter and I struck out. What was interesting was the next day there was a quote in the papers by Ted Williams who said I looked great striking out. He liked my swing. I guess, if you're going to strike out, you can't do better than reading Ted Williams telling you that you looked good striking out. Nobody looks good striking out.

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