The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World

The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World

by Joshua Prager
4.1 17

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The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World by Joshua Prager

This is the untold story behind baseball's most legendary moment:The Shot Heard Round the World. A Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

At 3:58 p.m. on October 3, 1951, Bobby Thomson hit a home run off Ralph Branca. The ball sailed over the left field wall and into history. The Giants won the pennant. That moment—the Shot Heard Round the World—reverberated from the West Wing of the White House to the Sing Sing death house to the Polo Grounds clubhouse, where hitter and pitcher forever turned into hero and goat. It was also in that centerfield block of concrete that, after the home run, a Giant coach tucked away a Wollensak telescope. The Echoing Green places that revelation at the heart of a larger story, re-creating in extravagant detail and illuminating as never before the impact of both a moment and a long-guarded secret on the lives of Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307389336
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/11/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 540
Sales rank: 708,108
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Joshua Prager writes for publications including Vanity FairThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, where he was a senior writer for eight years. He has three times been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. Joshua was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 2011 and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Hebrew University in 2012. He was born in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, grew up in New Jersey, and lives in New York. 

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Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reconstructing events from more than a half century ago with the skill of a great detective and the writing ability of a master storyteller, Mr. Prager makes you feel as though you're back at the Polo Grounds in 1951, when an electrician may well have been as instrumental in the Giants' miracle comeback as any player on the roster. Prager's thorough research sheds irrefutable new light on what had been rumored for decades. Along the way, he explores the different paths that brought Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson to that one October moment which would link them forever in baseball history. (You'll even learn of the connection between George Washington and the Polo Grounds!) This book will become the definitive history of that incredible 1951 NL pennant race. It is truly a "can't put it down" book for anyone interested in baseball history, the history of New York, or simply a study in human nature: of winning, losing,- and "how you play the game!"
Guest More than 1 year ago
As someone who, as a kid, saw the home run on a 10' television in New York and had the delight to be the first to tell his Dad that OUR Giants did something WONDERFUL, I had the opportunity to go back in time, to have a very fine writer reconstruct the sum and substance, to FEEL it again. No. It went beyond that... I had the opportunity to learn what was really happening and -in the process -understand that what I saw was much more than a benchmark baseball game. I appreciate Mr. Prager's writing for giving me the chance to realize that I was witnessing a human drama much deeper than a pitch and a hit ... after nearly 60 years I came to understand aspects of my perception that I don't think I've ever considered consciously before! Thank you Mr. Prager ! To fellow readers : this book IS special, do yourself a sizeable favor to read it soon !!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though born YEARS after the Miracle at Coogan's Bluff, I am a big fan of the Dodgers-Giants rivaly of that era, Mays, Irvin, Thomson, Durocher, Branca, Reese, Snyder, Maglie, Stanky, and on and on. I was so looking forward to this book, and was disappointed - probably due to my own expectations. I so much thought it was going to revisit the season, the main characters, the pennant race and then the playoff games. While it covered all of that, there was so much more in terms of historical backdrop and then the aftermath for the two protagonists I just felt the book didn't have the steam I thought it would generate and hold. Damn good book, just not great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wanderoos24 More than 1 year ago
As a fan of baseball, this book is a very informative read on the shot heard round the world, and what led up to that moment. If you are a fan of baseball or baseball history this book is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Echoing Green' belongs in that select company of sports books that capture a time and place that takes you back to when you were a kid. 'The Boys of Summer' being the first and 'The Perfect Mile' being the most recent until Josh Prager brought us this fine book. Those of us of a certain age know the main characters but Prager reminds us of other baseball figures ' such as Leo Durocher and Herman Franks' that played a part in this long held secret. You will marvel at the cast of characters that the author digs up to enliven and enrich the story. Did Bobby Thomson take an active part in cheating to help him tag Ralph Brance with that'loser' image he so wrongly was burdened with all these years? Read this excellent account of what happened and make up your own mind. You might be surprised to see how ambivalent you might be about that decision.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 'The Echoing Green,' Josh Prager gives us a thoroughly-researched and well-documented account of one of baseball's most historic moments. He adds human faces and hearts to an event that is much more than names, dates, and statistics. Prager traces the lives of Ralph Branca, Bobby Thomson, and other involved parties until they reach a confluence on October 3, 1951. Baseball fans will already be well-versed in the climax, but there is much drama before we ever reach that date. The author also shows us how, for years to come, the 'shot' impacted the lives of Branca, Thomson, family members, players, and the game of baseball itself. I learned a great deal and had hours of reading pleasure. Prager has a gift, and I hope he gives us more baseball.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joshua Prager has written a book about one of the most talked about events in baseball history and although it happened almost 56 years ago this book reveals the pathos of the pennant series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and their hated rivals, the New York Giants,the strange array of characters who conspired to steal signals from the Dodgers in that final game that caused the Dodgers the pennant in 1951. The lives of Bobby Thomson, who hit the home run and Ralph Branca, the pitcher who gave up the home run, would never be the same again. The home run, which has been dubbed 'The Shot Heard Round The World', would become the most talked about and most remembered event in baseball history. Joshua Prager, devoting six years of research to this episode, has written one of the greatest books that deals with sports history and insights into a ballplayer's travails and psyche.This book is a must in any baseball library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joshua Prager's The Echoing Green delves into fascinating detail as this talented young author recreates the years, days, minutes and seconds leading up to the epochal home run hit by Bobby Thomson to give the underdog New York Giants the 1951 National League pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers. At midpoint in the season, the Dodgers- the 'Boys of Summer' led by Robinson, Reese, Campanella and Snider - held a giant-sized, if you will, lead in the pennant race, only to see that lead ebb in the final weeks of the campaign. The Giants, helped by strong pitching and the fiery leadership of manager Leo Durocher, put together a comeback that, as rumor had it for many years, was assisted in no small part by some advanced sign-stealing. Did Thomson know that Ralph Branca, the woebegone Dodger pitcher who came into the final playoff game in relief, was going to throw a fastball? Prager tells us more than any one writer has, in an easy-to-read style packed with fascinating facts, pertinent parallels and on-hand observations. The actual description of the 'shot heard 'round the baseball world' serves as a fulcrum as Prager weaves the words of dozens of witnesses into an engrossing tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
History, whether sport or politics or warfare is made by the daily actions and attentions of ordinary people who are swept into our attention for their moment in the limelight and pass on to quiet anonymity. Prager's book is 'The Greatest Generation' of baseball. Ordinary men - and a few resilient women - in the limelight once, act out the history of the game, and then remember their combat - forever. Is there great value to Prager's new and obsessively researched detailing of that long-past day, the forces that spawned it and its lifelong impact on the participants? Absolutely! I inhaled it. I was devastated on 10/3/51 when Bobby Thomson's home run sent all of Brooklyn into mourning. And I attended one of the earlier games Ralph Branca pitched that Prager accurately describes in this book. But what I found there was not the accumulation of numbers nor the unusual sentence structure but the great stories of ordinary - and some very extraordinary - men reminding us that life at its best is that steady search for doing the next right thing. Thomson and Branca's lifetime of almost brotherly love and conflict echo a relationship that Prager may not recognize. These two men have the same bond that combat soldiers have: complex and loyal. I have a friend, a tank commander from the Battle of the Bulge, just a year older than Thomson. He will journey anywhere in the world to attend the funeral of a comrade. Mark this. Branca or Thomson will die. And the other one will be in the front row of the service. All as result of a pitch and a hit in 1951.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a sports epic which is far more then 'the shot heard 'round the world', even though the combatants, Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca are the crux and the glue of the story. Mr. Prager spent the better part of five years of superb research in gathering information for his book. He deserves high marks in terms of empirical data and interviews with people both inside and outside of baseball. Those who were alive on October 3, 1951 and who were baseball fans, have forever ranked that day of joy and infamy along with November 22, 1963, December 7, 1941 and April 12, 1945 as unforgettable. The essence of the story, in this reviewers opinion, is about honesty and hoped for justice. 55+ years have come and gone since Thomson hit the home run to become an instant hero and Ralph Branca was unfairly branded as a goat.Since its inception in the days of Abner Doubleday, there have been many documented instances in major league baseball games, where dishonesty has gone unpunished. In this single incident, the 1951 National League pennant (the prize) was awarded unfairly to the wrong team.Much has been written and discussed about whether Thomson knew or did not know that Branca would throw a fastball on the 0-1 count. I believe it doesn't matter because Thomson still had to hit the ball. But what about the methodical use of a telescope and an electrical signal, followed by a hand signal to the batter from the Giant bullpen...........manifold times over the course of New York Giant home games between mid-August and the end of the 1951 season ? That is 'THE ISSUE'. Because any individual instance where cheating in this fashion resulted in a favorable outcome for the Giants and became a methodical building block which culminated in Thomson's home run. There are those who will say that the Giants cheating broke no law. But the ostensible 'moral code' was broken. And Prager's presentation of both fact and informed opinion from a multitude of sources, makes for a compelling story. I highly recommend this book to all who know and love the game of baseball and its history as our national pastime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finally finished The Echoing Green, all 350 pages of text. There are an additional 149 pages of notes, a dissertation-length bibliography, a gazillion acknowledgements, and an index. Although there's a great story in there someplace, the book mostly drove me nuts. The first 200 pages should have been ruthlessly slashed by an editor to about 50 pages. I found those pages almost unreadable, every sentence packed and dragged down by so many facts that reading was less a pleasure than a sensation akin to tramping through a field of rock-filled mud. Prager seems determined to include in his narrative every last little fact he accumulated in the course of what can only be called compulsive research. Every subject mentioned gets traced back to the Stone Age every person mentioned gets not a capsule but a quart jar-sized biography. The narrative, such as it is, slows down to a crawl and pretty much disappears beneath the weight of all this largely irrelevant material. I kept wondering: does this author have a brother or some other relative who's an Ivy League English literature professor, a snooty fellow who looks down on poor Joshua for not earning a doctorate, and for his choice of a career in mere journalism? Prager seems determined to show how erudite he is, with those high-falutin' quotations from literary works both famous and obscure bedecking the opening of each chapter, and references within the text that serve no other purpose than to show off. Does a (needlessly exhaustive) discussion of the history of signs and sign-stealing in baseball really have to drag in Ferdinand de Sassure, the ' father of semiotics,' as Prager helpfully tells us ignorant sports-folks? There's a disease worse than Writer's Block and a LOT worse than Writer's Cramp, and Prager has a raging case of it. The ailment is Writer's Tic: a repetitious and terminally annoying prose affectation. In Prager's case you could call it the 'Throw Mama From the Train a Kiss Construction.' All too often Prager uses a backwards sentence structure that's right up there with Chinese Water Torture-- you keep wondering when the next drop is going to fall. Examples: 'a quartet of well-dressed women who sat every game beside the right-field foul pole ' 'gathered in the Forbes Field clubhouse, sat silently Durocher's new team ' 'Maglie...then gave up to Robinson a single to left.' And so on and on. I started making a little red dot in the margin each time I came across one of these constructions, and the margins look like they have the measles. How any editor could have allowed this tic to reach the printed page is beyond me. But I didn't think the book was all bad. After struggling through the first 200 pages, we FINALLY get to, and past, the actual home run. This is where the real story begins-- the story of how Thomson and Branca have come to be yoked together for all eternity, NOT the entire history of baseball, of sign-stealing, and of everyone with any connection whatsoever to the story that fills those endless 200 previous pages. The last 150 pages are wonderful-- even the Throw Mama Syndrome can't completely ruin this part of the book, where the story really soars. Although the sub-title calls the book 'the untold story' of the famous home run, everything in the first 200 pages has been told before, albeit in less overwhelmingly detailed form. After all, it was Prager himself who broke the story in 2001 in the Wall Street Journal, and as he points out, snippets of the story had been floating around in print since the early 1950s. What's new is his insightful account of how Thomson and Branca have dealt with their fame/notoriety during those subsequent decades, and how their mutual knowledge of the sign-stealing secret affected the way each man reacted to the other, and to what fate dealt him. This could have been a great LITTLE book, instead of a badly flawed BIG book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's amazing what REALLY awful writing can do to ruin a terrific story. I opened this book ready to be enthralled, but instead I was bored, annoyed, and finally outraged by the horrible quality of the prose. Aren't there any editors out there would could have taken this author aside and given him the literary equivalent of a trip to the woodshed? How did ANY editor worth his salary allow writing this bad to be published? Very few times in my life have I ever bought a book and then returned it to the store where I bought it, with the explanation that it wasn't worth the purchase price. But that's exactly what I did with this book. What a shame-- the author has done some amazing research-- TOO MUCH, really-- but he pretty much missed the main story, the lives of Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca AFTER The Home Run. That story is tacked on at the end, but it should have been the main theme. The sign-stealing story is VERY old news. I remember reading about it in a book published in the early 1990's-- Ray Robinson's 'The Home Run Heard 'Round the World.' And Prager himself published an 'expose'' about it in the Wall Street Journal in 2001. So what's untold? Only the mind-numbing number of irrelevant details that Prager felt compelled to include in this unreadable book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I heard about a new book about the '51 baseball season I initially felt no need to read another recollection of Bobby Thomson's magical blast but I was totally overwhelmed by the in-depth study of not just the home run that will live forever but the beautiful story of the lives of all the 'players' involved in that historic event. Joshua Prager has written a masterpiece for not just baseball lovers but for all sports fans who appreciate exquisitely detailed prose. Prager exposes the great Giant plot to steal the signs of their opponents from mid-season on through October 3, 1951 and in doing so, delves into the lives of the many characters involved and that lends to hours of reading enjoyment! This book is a classic (I felt I was back in the 1940's and '50's) and deserves to be ranked with Roger Kahn's 'Boys of Summer' and David Halberstam's 'Summer of '49' and 'October 1964.' Read it and become immersed in a literary gem!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stealing signs notwithstanding, the Bobby Thomson homerun put an exclamation point on a miraculous season. This book tells the story again, but with copious, engaging detail, and much affection for the players and their time. The Leo Durocher stories alone are worth the price of admission.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I will never forget my father sitting me down when I was 12 years old expressing to me pitch by pitch with heartache how his life changed because of the outcome of this one game. He clearly defined his interest in sports by this one game, so therefore I so wanted to read and enjoy Pragers book as I envisioned it taking me back to another era, Well, it didn't! Pragers writing is simply horrific! I was board out of my mind reading fact after fact which was not needed. There was simply no structure to his writing style with me thinking he had something to prove with boring fact after fact. Pragers writing is tedious and if he cut his facts in half, it would have been an exceptional read. Don't waste your time unless you have plenty of time to waste.