The man behind the "shot heard 'round the world"—the game-ending homer that won the New York Giants the pennant over rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951—died in his Savannah, Georgia home today after years of declining health at the age of 86. Bobby Thomson was a Giants outfielder from 1946-1953, nicknamed "Staten Island Scot" because of his Glasgow roots and Richmond County residence. The three-run homer he hit off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca was a timely miracle in an already miraculous season for the New York Giants, and made him an instant celebrity even beyond the sports world.
Perhaps the only thing more memorable than the homer itself was the reaction to it: broadcaster Russ Hodges' cries of "The Giants win the pennant!," Don DeLillo's detailed portrait of the moment in Underworld, sportswriter Red Smith's recap, "Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again." Thomson's action transcended baseball; he will not only be remembered as a great athlete, but as a legendary hero.