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Scot who hit ‘the shot heard around the world’ dies aged 86

Bobby Thomson, the Glasgow-born star who passed into baseball legend for hitting “the shot heard ‘round the world”, has died in his US home at the age of 86.

Thomson was adored by millions of fans across America for scoring the points that earned the New York Giants the 1951 US National League Pennant, but his earliest years were spent in Glasgow.

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The budding star came into the world in Townhead, where he remained until the age of two before his family emigrated to New York in search of a better life during the Depression.

He grew up on Staten Island, where his father worked as a cabinet-maker, and on leaving high school in 1942 he signed up with the Giants.

Thomson went on to enjoy notable success with the team, but it was nearly 10 years later that he secured his place in sporting history with one of the most dramatic finishes to any game in living memory.

The Giants had trailed local rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers by 13 games in the national league, prompting the Dodgers’ manager Charlie Dressen to declare: “The Giants is dead”. A 16-game winning streak sent them soaring to the top of the table, however, and set the stage for a three-game showdown with their rivals at the end of the season.

With one game apiece under their belts, around 50,000 fans packed Manhattan Polo Grounds stadium for the final face-off. Despite falling three points behind, a last-ditch fightback by the Giants put the young Scot up to bat; the rest is history.

Thomson hit an astounding home run that left commentators scrabbling for words and fans clambering over one another in the stands. US soldiers stationed in Korea heard the play on the radio, and either for this reason or because of a headline in the New York Times the play became known – as in the Waldo Emerson poem – as “the shot heard ‘round the world”.

During a rare visit to his homeland when he was inducted into the sporting hall of fame in 2006, Thomson said to The Herald: “I guess I’m barely known here in Scotland”. He remains, however, a legend, in his adopted country of America. He died at home in Savannah, Georgia, where he is survived by his daughter Megan Thomson Armstrong.

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