Ralph Branca has died.
The former Brooklyn Dodger famously surrendered “the shot heard round the world,” Bobby Thomson’s magical home run that caused broadcaster Russ Hodges to yell, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!…”
An apocryphal story has Branca lamenting to a priest, “Why did this have to happen to me?” To which the cleric replied, “God never gives us more than we can bear” or some similar sentiment.
One of the last “Boys of Summer,” Branca probably knew how his obituary would begin immediately after he gave up that home run. Regardless of what he had done before or would do after, this one moment would be his legacy.
Some of us might wonder what will lead off our obituary when the time comes. Will it because of some great thing we accomplished? Or will it be for the one thing we slipped up on? And will it matter? That depends on your perception of the afterlife (if you believe in that sort of thing). Do you really care what people think of you, either here in the present or after the close the lid?
More on Branca:
- Joshua Prager chronicled the watershed event in The Echoing Green, published in 2006.
- Here’s the New York Times‘ obituary by Richard Goldstein.
- Branca published his memoirs, A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace, in 2011.
- I wonder what he thought about the way he was portrayed by Hamish Linklater in the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42.