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On October 3, 1951, the Giants’ Bobby Thomson – who died yesterday at age 86 – did more than hit the most famous home run in baseball history. He also inspired one of baseball’s most famous sayings.
The Yankees had clinched the American League pennant just a couple of days before the Giants and Dodgers decided the National League flag with their legendary best of three playoff. Yogi Berra and Hank Bauer, along with other Yankees, went to the third game at the Polo Grounds to scout their upcoming World Series opponents. They were openly rooting for the Giants, as the Polo Grounds had a whopping 23,000 more seats than Ebbets Field, and in 1951 the players’ World Series shares were still based on ticket sales.
Before the game, Yogi and Hank went out on the field to trade quips with the Dodgers and also pick up some tips on playing the tricky Polo Grounds outfield walls. By the 8th inning, though, they were convinced that their opponents would be the Dodgers. With Brooklyn up 4-1, Berra and Bauer decided that it was a good time to get a jump on the bridge traffic and head home to New Jersey.
They made it halfway across the George Washington before the Game ended. Bauer said to Berra, “Switch on the radio so we can catch the final out.” They turned it on just in time to hear Giants announcer Russ Hodges screaming hysterically, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
In 2005 at Watch The World Series night with Yogi at Berra’s Museum and Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University, a fan asked Yogi what his thoughts were when he heard about Thomson’s home run on the radio. “I guess we should have stayed,” he replied. That’s when I first learned it ain’t over till it’s over.”