Ralph Branca, beloved Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, dead at 90

Ralph Branca, who gave up one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, died Wednesday morning.

Ex-Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who is married to Branca’s daughter Mary, shared the news on Twitter.

“One of the greatest guys to ever throw a pitch or sing a song is (no) longer with us,” Valentine tweeted. “Ralph Branca Passed this morning.

“In his 91st year on Earth he left us with the same dignity and grace that defined his everyday on earth. He will be truly missed!!!”

Ralph Branca, seen here in 2007 talking about 'the pitch', was 90. 

Ralph Branca, seen here in 2007 talking about ‘the pitch’, was 90. 

(Roberts, Matthew,,freelance/Roberts, Matthew,,freelance)

Branca, the Mount Vernon product, was 90.

On October 3, 1951, Branca gave up Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” 3-run homer as the Giants beat Branca’s Dodgers at the Polo Grounds in the ninth inning of a National League playoff game. Thomson’s heroics put the Giants into the World Series.

Here’s how the Daily News’ Mike Lupica described the moment in 2010 when Thomson died at the age of 86:

OCCT. 10, 1951 FILE PHOTO.

In this Oct. 10, 1951, file photo, Bobby Thomson (l.) of the New York Giants, and Ralph Branca of the Brooklyn Dodgers engage in horse play before a World Series baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York. On Oct. 3, 1951, Thomson had hit a home run, “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World,” off Branca in the ninth inning of a National League playoff game to put the Giants into the World Series.

(Anonymous/AP)

One pitch and one swing and two New York teams and only one of them going to the World Series. The Dodgers were ahead in the last inning of the last game of a best-of-three series for the National League pennant, that close to going to the Series to play the Yankees. Because the whole baseball world was New York in those days, in the ’50s. Then Thomson jumped on a high pitch and hit that three-run shot and then was skipping around the bases, bounding around the bases, and (Russ) Hodges was yelling and nothing would ever be the same, for either of them.

“I take it as it comes,” Branca told Lupica in 1986 about his infamous pitch. “If I feel like getting into it, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. You find out a lot about people by who brings it up and who doesn’t.”

Branca, a three-time All-Star, spent the first 11 seasons of his big-league career with the Dodgers. He also pitched for the Tigers and Yankees. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1943 out of New York University, Branca had a career record of 88-68 with a 3.79 ERA. 

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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