Recorded coverage beginning in the last of the ninth inning, with the New York Giants Whitey Lockman at bat; the score 4 to 2 Brooklyn. Announcer Russ Hodges calls the play by play, as Bobby Thomson hits a homerun ("The Shot heard Round the World"), winning the best two out of three playoff series (the FIRST nationally televised baseball series ever broadcast, coast to coast).
Wrap up of the game is heard by Bob Prince (baseball announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates 1948-1975), who attended the game and sat along side best friend Russ Hodges in the booth.
Post game clubhouse (New York Giants) interviews begin with Steve Ellis, Ernie Harwell and Russ Hodges behind the mike. Those interviewed, in a emotional celeritous Giant clubhouse, are Herman Franks, Alvin Dark, Larry Jansen, Eddie Stanky, Charlie Dressen, Ford Frick, Horace Stoneham, Bill Rigney, Hank Sims, Walter O'Malley, Bobby Thomson, Charley Finney, Jim Hearn, Eddie Bracket, Art Flynn, Leo Durocher, Chris Durocher (son), Willie Mays, Whitey Lockman, Sal Maglie, Monte Irvin Paul Richards, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Sheldon Jones and Willard Marshall.
In addition to NBC's TV crew, six radio networks set up shop in the press box attached to the underside of the upper deck.
• Russ Hodges did the Giants' broadcast solo because NBC hired his partner, Ernie Harwell, to handle their telecast. Hodges's friend Bob Prince, the Pirates' announcer, sat next to him as a guest, and filled in for Hodges and Harwell in the celebratory New York Giant’s locker room after the game ended with a wrap up summary prior to the beginning of the many interviews that would follow and captured on audio.
• Red Barber and Connie Desmond would, as usual, call the game for the Dodgers (WMGM).
• The Liberty Broadcasting Network, which recreated most of its baseball and football broadcasts from its studio in Dallas, sent "The Old Scotsman" Gordon McLendon to call the game live. His broadcast is the only one that survives as complete, on audio tape.
• Al Helfer reported the action on the Mutual Broadcasting System, largest in the nation.
• Harry Caray of the Cardinals broadcast the game for a group of Midwest stations.
• Buck Canel and Felo Ramirez did the Spanish broadcast for Latin America.
Russ Hodges: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field The Giants win the pennant! And they’re going crazy! They are going crazy! Oh-oh!”
“Everybody remembers it now,” said Bobby Thomson. “But you have to understand the feeling between those teams. I didn’t think of the pennant — only that we beat the Dodgers.”
Hodges: “I don’t believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson hit a line drive into the lower deck of the leftfield stands, and the whole place is going crazy! The Giants Horace Stoneham is now a winner. The Giants won it by a score of 5 to 4, and they’re picking Bobby Thomson up and carrying him off the field!”
Before videotape (1956/1957), to reproduce a television broadcasts, as it aired live, a film camera had to film (usually on black & white 16mm Kodak reversal film stock) a TV screen to monitor and record a copy of a broadcast, a process called kinescoping. “Kinescopes were fuzzy and extremely bulky, a costly to accomplish, so the networks of the 1950s saved almost nothing. Few professionals and lay persons even had a radio reel-to-reel recorder (sold commercially only a few years before) which were hard to carry around, expensive to purchase as well as the cost incurred to purchase audio tape 1/4" reels, so the average person didn’t have one.
However, In Brooklyn, a restaurant waiter Laurence Goldberg did own one. Goldberg was a New York Giant fan from the time he was 8 years old. Having to leave for work in Manhattan, he instructed his mother, Sylvia, who knew little about baseball, to hit the “record” button in the bottom of the ninth which she did, with one out and Whitey Lockman at bat, the score now 4 to 2 Brooklyn.
Lockman doubles. The Giants now have men on second and third base. Bobby Thomson comes to the plate, and the rest is history!
The next day, Larry Goldberg wrote a letter to Russ Hodges about his tape recording, which was not recorded my WMCA radio, or it turns out to be by anyone else (similar to the scenario of Phil Gries' solo home audio tape recording of Don Pardo announcing, over NBC TV, the first bulletins of the JFK assassination, eight years later). Russ Hodges sent Goldberg $10 to use his borrowed copy to record a 1951 Christmas gift for friends. During the fall of 1952 sponsor Chesterfield cigarettes released a record of “the most exciting moment in baseball history, including that famous Bobby Thomson homerun.”
The National Recording Registry chose announcer Russ Hodges’ call of the 1951 National League tiebreaker between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers for inclusion in their archive of iconic American sounds.
Courtesy National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Why so memorable:
Russ Hodges’ “The Shot Heard ’Round the World?”
At the time, Dodgers-Giants forged sport’s greatest rivalry, yearly playing 22 games against each other, radio, and TV broadcasting through The City. America was the world’s post-war colossus, perhaps baseball never meaning more. What made the moment wonderwork was the Giants announcer’s call.
On August 13, Brooklyn led the National League by 13 and 1/2 games. By September 20 the Giants trailed by 6 with 7 left. The Dodgers fell behind, 6-1, rallying to win, 9-8, in 14 innings. Next day the best-of-three NL playoff began: “a world,” said Russ, “focused on our rivalry.” Even the Voice of the American League Yankees was transfixed. “Think of it,” said Voice Mel Allen. “Three New York teams out of the big leagues’ 16 remain. One’s already in the Series [his], the other two tied.” For years a red-blooded American could recite the script by rote. It is easy to see why.
The NL playoff became the then most widely aired event in radio and TV history. Seven networks, five of them radio, did at least one game: the Mutual and Liberty Broadcasting system with announcer Gordon McClendon, Dodgers’ radio WMGM and Brooklyn Dodgers’ Re-created Network(s); Giants’ WMCA Radio; and CBS TV—the latter airing the first coast-to-coast network sports telecast for game one of the playoffs (October 1st), with Red Barber doing the play by play. With the playoff series moving the following day to the Giants’ home park, the Polo Grounds, NBC TV moved in to pick up the rights, negotiating directly with WPIX, New York, which had carried the Giant’s home schedule all year. CBS TV held on to westbound relay until 3 pm and NBC broadcast the game from 3:00pm to conclusion. It was necessary for the two networks to swap time each day to permit their carrying the full game which started at 1:30pm.
On October 3, 1951 Ernie Harwell did play by play on NBC TV which to this day has never been archived in any manner.
Only four years earlier Americans had owned 17,000 TV sets v. 58 million radios. By 1951 video had become an irresistible object. Radio was the immovable object, some feeling TV cursory. Such a schism towered as Russ and Ernie “tossed a coin [about a possible Game Three],” Harwell laughed. When Ernie got TV, he joked, “I felt sympathy for ‘Ole’ Russ. All these radio networks and I was gonna’ be on TV, and I thought that I had the plum assignment.” New York won the opener, 3-1. Next day changed place (Polo Grounds) and outcome (Dodgers win 10-0). His plum then spoiled.
The night before the final, Hodges stayed awake gargling. Worse, to test his voice, he kept talking into a microphone at home, hurting his throat. Next day, at 3:48 P.M., Ralph Branca threw a two-on one-out ninth-inning 0 & 1 pitch with Brooklyn up, 4-2.
“There’s a long drive!” WMCA’s Russ began. “It’s going to be, I believe! … The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the leftfield stands! The Giants win the pennant! And they’re going crazy! They are going crazy! Oh-oh! The Giants . . . have won it by a score of 5 to 4, and they’re picking Bobby Thomson up and carrying him off the field. I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! I do not believe it. Bobby Thomson hit a line drive into the lower deck of the leftfield stands, and the whole place is going crazy!”
NOTE: This broadcast moment is one of the greatest broadcasts ever aired on radio or television. And That's the Way it Was, October 3rd, 1951.
This remastered 34-minute retrospective was remastered by Phil Gries. It is the most complete audio extant and available representing this radio broadcast.