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February 2, 2001
by Bill Hogan



Don't mess with a legend. The "shot heard 'round the world" is one of the miracles that make baseball America's favorite pastime.

The revelation that the New York Giants "stole" the '51 pennant from the Brooklyn Dodgers is a shot in the back heard 'round the world.

Russ Hodges screaming "THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT" over and over is baseball folklore.


Lets get to the facts: Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca throws a fastball to the Giant's Bobby Thompson with two on, one out in the bottom of the ninth. Thompson smashes the fast ball over the left field wall. The Giants win the pennant!

I bet there wasn't a person at the Polo Grounds that day that didn't know Branca was going to throw a fastball. Pitchers always rely on their best pitch in crunch-time. It wasn't necessary to steal the sign peering through a telescope out in center field.

Let's not miss the obvious - Whitey Lockman was on second base! Who would have had a better view of the catcher's signs than Whitey? The bottom line is, everybody knew what was coming. Thompson, though, was the one that had to actually hit a big league fastball (no small task - Branca's 75 now and I bet he'd still have enough heat to get me out!) out of the park to complete this storybook ending.

There's a bar on third avenue in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn that is dedicated to the memory of the old "Boys of Summer" that used to play their home games in Ebbets Field. Probably the only place in America where news of this nature was greeted favorably. I'm sure that more than one patron could be heard uttering the words: "I knew they musta cheated - those bums!"

Since when is it necessary for sportswriters to become investigative reporters? There is plenty of fodder in today's sports world for headline seeking journalists to chew on: Ray Lewis, Mark Chumura, et. al.

Leave the legends alone. Otherwise, what's next?

EX-GIRLFRIEND REVEALS: BABE DIDN'T POINT. Baseball's Sultan of Swat never predicted a home run by pointing to the outfield bleachers.

DIARY REVEALS JESSE OWENS TAKING PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS. World's fastest man had help taking gold in Munich Olympics.

RYAN'S EXPRESS AIDED BY SALIVA. Nolan Ryan's untouchable fastball is super-spitter, says estranged ex-catcher.

FORMER NHL LOCKERROOM ATTENDANT: GRETZKY'S STICK ILLEGAL. Says "somebody should have checked the curve on the blade of the Great One's stick."

USA HOCKEY TEAM PAID OFF RUSSIANS: Anonymous player says they traded blue jeans for win.

SNEAKER EXEC CLAIMS JABBAR WORE LIFTS. Special shoes made the 6 foot Hall of Famer larger than life.

ARNIE'S CADDY COMES CLEAN. Golfing great Palmer used ball with too many dimples to win 1962 Masters.

Get the picture? Here's some advice for all those ambitious sportswriters looking for that one big scoop: If you hear some startling revelation about the '66 Packers, the '69 Mets, the Jordan-era Bulls or Muhummad Ali - by all means write about it - in your diary. Then lock the diary, take a shovel and bury the key. Then bury the shovel.

Don't mess with a legend.


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