NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bobby Valentine broke some sad news on Wednesday morning.
The former Mets manager announced that Ralph Branca, the long-time pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers who gave up one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, has died at the age of 90.
Valentine, who is married to Branca’s daughter, announced the former pitcher’s passing on Twitter.
Branca pitched in the majors for 12 years, but the signature moment of his career occurred during the 1951 season when he served up the legendary “shot heard ’round the world” game-winning home run to Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants in the ninth inning of the decisive game of the three-game series for the National League pennant.
A native of Mount Vernon, New York, Branca, a three-time All-Star, went 88-68 with a 3.79 ERA during his career, including a 21-win season with the Dodgers in 1947.
“In his 91st year on Earth he left us with same dignity and grace that defined his everyday on earth. He will be truly missed!!!” Valentine tweeted.
As CBS2’s Otis Livingston explained, there’s more to Branca than ‘the shot.’
He played a big part in one of the most iconic moments in sports history, but he should be remembered for the way he behaved during one of the most significant moments in American history on opening day in 1947, when Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut Branca lined up right next to him when other teammates refused.
Jackie’s widow Rachel echoed those sentiments in a 2014 interview.
“There were players who were hostile to Jack and tried to provoke him. Ralph was one of the players who supported him openly. Jack liked and admired him as a friend, even after Branca left the Dodgers,” she said.