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3, 1951, to cap baseball’s most memorable pennant drive, died Monday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 86.

His death was announced by his daughter Megan Thomson Armstrong, who said he had been in failing health and had recently had a fall.

Partly because of the fierce rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers; partly because it was broadcast from coast to coast on television; and partly because it was memorably described in a play by play call by the Giants radio announcer Russ Hodges, Thomson’s three run homer endures as perhaps the most dramatic moment in baseball history. It was a stirring conclusion to the Giants’ late summer comeback, known as the Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff, and remains an enduring symbol of victory snatched from defeat (and vice versa).

“I can remember feeling as if time was just frozen,” Thomson once said. “It was a delirious, delicious moment.”

“There’s a long drive . it’s gonna 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 left field stands! The Giants win the pennant, and they’re going crazy, they’re going crazy! .

“I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it, I do not believe it!”

Thomson’s home run propelled the Giants to a 5 4 victory, he and Branca became bonded as baseball’s ultimate hero and goat, and the moment became enshrined in American culture. In 1999, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Thomson’s drive, and Don DeLillo used the baseball he hit as a relic of memory in the acclaimed 1997 novel “Underworld.”

Robert Brown Thomson was born on Oct. 25, 1923, in Glasgow and arrived in the United States at age 2. The son of a cabinetmaker, he grew up on Staten Island and signed with the Giants’ organization for a $100 bonus in 1942 out of Curtis High School.

A right handed batter with good power and excellent speed, Thomson was in his fifth full season with the Giants in 1951. He got off to a slow start, playing center field, then went to the bench in May when the Giants called up a 20 year old rookie named Willie Mays. But Thomson was playing regularly again by late July,
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this time at third base, and he hit better than .350 over the final two months of the season.

On Wednesday afternoon, the teams returned to the Polo Grounds to play for the pennant. It was an overcast day, and the attendance was just 34,320 some 22,000 below capacity for a duel of pitching aces, the Giants’ Sal Maglie against the Dodgers’ Don Newcombe.

Thomson blundered in the second inning, trying to stretch a hit into a double while his teammate Whitey Lockman was standing at second base; Thomson was tagged out in a rundown. His fly ball tied the score at 1 1 in the seventh, but in the eighth he let two ground balls get by him at third base for singles in the Dodgers’ three run rally, giving them a 4 1 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants had runners on second and third with one run in and one out. Dressen removed Newcombe and waved in Branca to face Thomson, who had hit 31 home runs that season, two against Branca.

“I kept telling myself: ‘Wait and watch. Give yourself a chance to hit,'” Thomson remembered.

Branca threw a fastball and Thomson moved his bat slightly but took a strike.

Branca delivered a second fastball, and this time Thomson sent the ball on a line toward the 16 foot high green wall in left field. “Sink, sink, sink,” Branca told himself.

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The Dodgers’ Andy Pafko slumped against the wall as the ball cleared the top and landed in the lower deck.

Thomson galloped around the bases as Branca began a long walk to the center field clubhouse. Eddie Stanky, the Giants’ second baseman, and Leo Durocher, the manager, hugged each other in a madcap dance in the third base coach’s box and grabbed at Thomson as he reached the bag. He broke away and arrived at home plate with a leap, surrounded by teammates who carried him on their shoulders.

“Now it is done,” Red Smith wrote in The New York Herald Tribune. “Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.”

Thomson’s home run eventually became entangled in revelations of a sign stealing operation conducted by the Giants in 1951, related by the sports columnist Dave Anderson of The New York Times in his book “Pennant Races” (1994) and by Joshua Prager in The Wall Street Journal in 2001 and in his book “The Echoing Green” (2006).

In an interview last month, Branca said he felt that Thomson did receive a signal from the Giants’ bullpen that a fastball was coming on that fateful pitch.

“When you took signs all year, and when you had a chance to hit a bloop or hit a home run, would you ignore that sign?” Branca said. “He knew it was coming. Absolutely.”

The rest of Thomson’s career was anticlimax. He performed no World Series miracles as the Giants were beaten by the Yankees in six games. He was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in February 1954, but soon afterward broke an ankle sliding in an exhibition game. He played for the Giants again in 1957, then with the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles,
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and retired after the 1960 season with a batting average of .270 and 264 home runs over 15 years.