The fact that he threw the pitch Bobby Thomson
hit for "the shot heard round the
world" to win the 1951 playoff has obscured much of the rest of Branca's career.
The one-time N.Y.U. basketball player was the starter and loser of the first two
NL playoff games in 1946 and 1951. In 1947, he won 21 games for the Dodgers at age
21. In the WS that year, he won the Sixth Game, saved by Al Gionfriddo
's famous catch
of DiMaggio's drive. Before the '51 playoffs, Branca had worn number 13 and good-naturedly
posed with black cats. Afterward, he changed his number, but not his luck. An off-season
pelvis injury all but ended his career and he won only twelve more games over the
next five years. He later became a broadcaster for the Mets.