A Slugger's Giant Cultural Clout

August 29, 2010

Perhaps because the New York Giants were the ball club of Manhattan's bookish Upper West Side, Bobby Thomson and the Shot Heard 'Round the World have each assumed a place in the intellectual canon. A chronological sampling:

ON THE ROAD (1957)

Ya can't Beat this: Jack Kerouac's alter ego, Sal Paradise, keeps track of three games at once. "We'll switch to Giants-Boston . . . so we quickly find out what happened to Bob Thomson when we left him thirty seconds ago with a man on third. Yes!"

OUT OF MY LEAGUE (1961)

George Plimpton's charming account (done on assignment from SI) of pitching in an exhibition to a lineup of major league All-Stars is punctuated by this author's note of being at school in Cambridge, England, and hearing Giants announcer Russ Hodges call the Shot: "I gave a terrible cry, threw a deck of cards to the winds and lurched around the room, nearly weeping, shouting, 'Bobby done it, he done it!' "

THE GODFATHER (1972)

When Sonny (James Caan) pulls up to the toll booth on the causeway, the attendant is listening to Hodges's play-by-play. Next ensue the shots heard 'round the film world. Only problem: The movie is set in the late '40s, and the game was in '51. An infamia!

M*A*S*H (1980)

In the episode "A War for All Seasons," Major Winchester and Corporal Klinger bet a bundle on the sure-thing Bums. Serves you right, Winchester, you . . . Bostonian!

THE SIMPSONS (1990)

Homer exults as the Springfield nine wins in a walk-off grand slam, with Hodges's bellow echoed in "The Isotopes win a game! The Isotopes win a game!" Four runs, one hit—d'oh errors!

DECONSTRUCTING HARRY (1997)

Amid the references to nihilism and Proust, director-star Woody Allen's character, Harry Block, gets a gift from his girlfriend: a ball signed by Thomson and his '51 Giants mates. "When he hit that home run," says Harry, "that was the only hint I've ever had that there may be a God."

UNDERWORLD (1997)

The prologue of Don DeLillo's acclaimed novel is a play-by-play of the Shot, juxtaposing the game, the imagined whereabouts of the home run ball, Hodges's broadcast and the activities of the Polo Grounds spectators. (Don't miss Jackie Gleason vomiting on Frank Sinatra's shoes.)

PHOTOFOX/PHOTOFEST (SIMPSON) PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)