The captivating, utterly improbable but ultimately true story of one man’s quest to solve sports’ greatest mystery: What happened to the most famous of all home-run balls–the holy grail of sports?
October 3, 1951. Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson hit the most dramatic home run in the history of baseball. The moment occurred in the bottom of the ninth inning of a sudden-death playoff game between the New York Giants and their arch rivals from Brooklyn, the Dodgers. People across the nation watched on their new TV sets, and the home run became known as “the Shot Heard ’Round the World.”
But after clearing the left-ﬁeld wall, the central artifact of the play–the ball itself–inexplicably went missing. The mystery of what happened to the legendary baseball has remained unsolved for a half century.
Miracle Ball is the gripping account of author Brian Biegel’s two-year effort to unravel the mystery that experts said could never be solved. After his father, Jack, ﬁnds a baseball at a thrift store with clues dating back to 1951 and believes it could possibly be the most coveted piece of sports history, father and son begin a journey to prove its authenticity. Biegel becomes consumed with the quest–recognizing it as the only chance to rescue himself from an emotionally devastating personal crisis that had long been crippling him.
The trail takes Biegel, a sports fan and documentary ﬁlmmaker, from an auction house in Long Island to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, to a backroom meeting straight out of a Martin Scorsese ﬁlm to a dusty oil ﬁeld in Texas, ﬁnally arriving at his ﬁnal destination on a quiet gravel road in New Mexico, the last place he ever expected to be.
Along the way the author meets an amazing cast of characters, including Bobby Thomson himself, who help him in his quest. Each adds their personal memories of the golden age of baseball, giving a broader scope and greater depth to this real-life detective story. As entertaining as it is inspiring, Miracle Ball is a story about faith, family, and heroes, about overcoming the odds and coming into the light, and about discovering the wondrous result of believing in yourself–and the amazing beneﬁts of unconditional love.
A sports story for the ages, an engrossing mystery narrative, and a moving account of a man’s unbreakable bond with his family and of his struggles to save himself, Miracle Ball delivers both heart and headlines.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Miracle Ball|
|Release Date: 05-12-2009|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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“The Holy Grail of Sports”
Wednesday, October 3, 1951
The sun hung over the first-base side of the Polo Grounds, reflecting off the apartment buildings that lined Harlem River Drive and onto the open end of the stadium behind the left field stands. The clock in center field read 3:58. The details of the play itself are familiar to most baseball fans. Branca had Thomson down in the count 0-1, the result of a called strike right down the middle.
It was the bottom of the ninth. Two men on base. The Giants trailed the Dodgers by two runs in the last game of a three-game playoff series. The winner would advance to the World Series against the New York Yankees. Out of the windup, Branca threw a fastball, high and tight. But this time Thomson, the lanky outfi elder turned third baseman, was ready. He pulled the pitch to left field—a sinking line drive.
The fans in the lower portion of section 35 followed the flight of the ball. A photo captured the moment perfectly. There was an overweight, middle-aged man in a white T-shirt and a black jacket in the first row. Next to him was a buzz-cut teenager
with thick-rimmed eyeglasses. A row above them stood a man with a handlebar mustache and a fedora. In the fourth row, a bushy-haired man stood with his arms stretched above his head and his mouth wide open.
The crowd’s loyalties were evenly divided: The Dodgers fans prayed that the ball would somehow find its way into left fielder Andy Pafko’s mitt; the Giants fans prayed that it wouldn’t. The teams’ rivalry—the oldest in professional sports—dated back all the way to the nineteenth century, but it had never seen a moment lik...