Born: January 6, 1926 in Mt. Vernon, New York
College: New York University
Height: 6′ 3”
Weight: 220 lbs.
MLB Debut: June 12, 1944 for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Last MLB Appearance: September 7, 1956 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Hear this special audio segment highlighting Ralph Branca’s career:
Win-Loss Record: 88-68 ERA: 3.79 Strikeouts: 829
Over his 12-year career, Branca spent brief stints with the Detroit Tigers (1953-54) and the New York Yankees (1954) but made his name with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1944-53, 1956). Branca made his Major League debut at the young age of 18 in 1944, posting a 3.04 ERA in 109.2 innings.
Branca became a fixture in the Brooklyn Dodgers rotation in the following years as he became an All-Star for three consecutive years from 1947-49. However, Branca is most often remembered for his giving up of Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard “Round the World” in a 1951 playoff game against the Dodgers’ hated cross-town rival, the New York Giants. The walk-off home run by Thompson in game three of the three game series gave the Giants the pennant completing an astounding comeback by the Giants by overcoming a 13 ½ game lead the Dodgers held during the season at one point. However, it was later revealed that the Giants were stealing signs during the infamous home-run, illegally giving Bobby Thompson tips as to what pitch Branca was about to throw.
Branca was never the same following the ’51 season as back injuries began to slow his career. Regardless of the infamous homerun, Branca remains a Dodger legend and beloved by many for his great contributions to the great pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodger teams of the ’40s and early ’50s.