Pitches Pitchers Would Like to Take Back

Photo

The Dodgers’ Al Downing leaving a game on April 8, 1974, shortly after surrendering the 715th career homer by the Braves’ Hank Aaron.

Credit
Joe Holloway, Jr./Associated Press

When you’re a baseball player remembered for one big at-bat, it’s almost always something good: a walk-off double, a record-breaking single, a pennant-clinching homer.

When you’re a pitcher remembered for one pitch … well it isn’t always as good.

Ralph Branca died Tuesday. He was a fine pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but inevitably all his obituaries referred prominently to the pitch he threw to Bobby Thomson in 1951 that promptly flew into the left-field stands and won the pennant for the New York Giants. The hit became known as the Shot Heard Round the World, and they heard Branca’s name around the world, too.

Here are some other pitchers whose careers were overshadowed by the one pitch that didn’t go quite right.

Ralph Terry to Bill Mazeroski, 1960. If any pitch surpasses the fame of the fastball thrown by Branca, it is this one. The setting could not have been more dramatic: World Series, Game 7, ninth inning, tie score. Mazeroski’s shot won the Series for the Pirates over the Yankees. Terry bounced back to win the most valuable player of the 1962 Series, but will always be remembered for giving up that blast, the first Series-ending home run ever.

Mitch Williams to Joe Carter, 1993. And this was the second. Williams was known as Wild Thing and had made a habit of giving Phillies fans many nervous moments. His teammate Curt Schilling finally started putting a towel over his head so he didn’t have to watch when Williams was on the mound. The Phillies nonetheless made the World Series, but it all came crashing down when Carter hit a bottom-of-the-ninth homer to win the Series for the Blue Jays.

Al Downing to…

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