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straight and for the fourth

  • 14 May
    Ralph Brancas career was defined by that one high-and-inside fastball.The Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who gave up Bobby Thomsons famed Shot Heard `Round the World still echoing more than six decades later among the most famous home runs in baseball history, died Wednesday. He was 90.His son-in-law, former big league manager Bobby Valentine, said Branca died at a nursing home in Rye Brook, New York.Branca was a three-time All-Star and spent 12 seasons in the majors. Brought in from the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth inning during the deciding Game 3 of the National League pennant playoff on Oct. 3, 1951, he gave up a three-run homer to Thomson that gave the rival New York Giants a stunning 5-4 victory.The one-out line drive into the left field lower deck at the Polo Grounds prompted the frenetic call from announcer Russ Hodges, The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The team and its fans celebrated wildly as Thomson breezed around the bases while Branca, wearing his unlucky No. 13 jersey, trudged off the mound.You know, Branca told The Associated Press in 1990, If you kill somebody, they sentence you to life, you serve 20 years and you get paroled. ... Ive never been paroled.Thomson, who also homered off Branca in Game 1, capped a sensational comeback for the Giants, who trailed the Dodgers by more than a dozen games heading toward mid-August.For the next 50 years, Branca and Thomson often appeared together at card shows, corporate events and baseball functions, re-telling the story of the home run that grew into a sports legend. They always were friendly at the affairs, sometimes even teaming up to sing about the big moment.I was closer to Ralph than to any other Dodger, Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said in a statement. He carried the cross of the Thomson home run with dignity and grace.It wasnt until many years later that it was revealed that the Giants had a little extra help.Thats when it came to light that the Giants employed a telescope-and-buzzer system that season to steal signs from opposing catchers. With that advantage, Giants hitters got a boost in their swings.And for years, the question remained: Did Thomson know the high-and-inside fastball from Branca was coming?Thomson firmly asserted that, no, he didnt get a sign in advance. A three-time All-Star himself, Thomson stuck to that claim until he died in 2010 at age 86.Branca, however, wasnt so sure about that.In 2001, the Giants sign-stealing operation was detailed in a story in The Wall Street Journal.A few days after that, Branca and Thomson saw each other for the first time at an event in Edison, New Jersey. They talked in private for five minutes, about a secret theyd both known about but never shared.Later, they spoke about their discussion.Its been a cleansing for both of us, Branca said then. He knew that I knew. Its better this way.To me, it was a forbidden subject, the right-hander said. And I didnt want to demean Bobby or seem like I was a crybaby.Said Thomson: It was like getting something off my chest after all those years. Im not a criminal, although I may have felt like one at first.And then, hours later, Thomson and Branca appeared together in Manhattan at the New York baseball writers dinner. In front of a ballroom full of fans, they took turns singing about the fateful pitch and swing, to lyrics written to the old standard Because of You -- a reprise of the act they performed when the same dinner was held in January 1952.His matchup with Thomson was recounted by Don Delillo in a 1992 Harpers Magazine story Pafko at the Wall, included five years later in the novel Underworld.Yes. It is Branca coming through the dampish glow. Branca who is tall and stalwart but seems to carry his own hill and dale, he has the aura of a man encumbered. The drooping lids, clodhopper feet, the thick ridge across the brow. His face is set behind a somber nose, broad-bridged and looming.One of the last remaining Boys of Summer, Branca was 88-68 with a 3.79 ERA in his big league career. He spent the first 11 years with the Dodgers, then played for Detroit and the Yankees before returning to Brooklyn for a final game in 1956.Branca made his debut as a teen in 1944 and went 21-12 with 15 complete games during Jackie Robinsons first season in 1947. Branca added another win that year at Yankee Stadium in the World Series.Branca to me was a hero, former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said in a statement. Ralph and I became very close, my family and his family. I always enjoyed being around him. He was a tough one in every way and I really admired him.Branca co-founded the Baseball Assistance Team, which aids members of the baseball family in need of financial, medical or psychological assistance, and served as its president for 17 years. He was a pallbearer at Robinsons funeral in 1972.Ralphs participation in the `Shot Heard `Round the World was eclipsed by the grace and sportsmanship he demonstrated following one of the games signature moments, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. He is better remembered for his dedication to the members of the baseball community. He was an inspiration to so many of us.Branca is survived by wife Ann and daughters Patti and Mary -- the latter the wife of Valentine.A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye. New Balance Schweiz Kaufen . Those lessons were more than enough to overwhelm the Utah Jazz. Lou Williams scored 25 points and the Hawks continued their offensive upswing as they rolled to an easy 118-85 victory over the Jazz on Friday night, winning their third straight and for the fourth time in five games. New Balance Schuhe Günstig Kaufen . The news was first reported on Gonzalezs Twitter account and confirmed by the Rockies. Gonzalez has a six-week window before position players have their first workout at spring training in Arizona. http://www.newbalanceschweiz.com/ . -- Brandon Jennings made the most of his first game with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night. New Balance Schweiz . LOUIS -- St. New Balance Schuhe Schweiz . The 28-year-old from Calgary matched his career best after missing just one shot in his two rounds of shooting in the mens 10-kilometre sprint competition. Smith finished in 23 minutes 15. Emeka Okafor, the former No. 2 overall pick who has been out of the NBA for three seasons, has decided to attempt a comeback with an eye toward joining a contending team in December or January.Okafors agent, Jeff Schwartz, confirmed that Okafor, who last played for the Washington Wizards in 2012-13 before suffering a herniated disc in his neck, is in the gym training and working on his conditioning.Hes probably five or six months away, Schwartz said. Hes been working hard rehabbing. For some guys that means one thing. To Emeka, who understands his body as well or better than some trainers that have worked with him, it means something else. Hes healthy. He feels great, but hes a perfectionist, and he wants everything to be right.In his final season in Washington, Okafor averaged 9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 26 minutes a game. He was a formidable shot-blocker and a defensive presence, helping the Wizards finish eighth in the league in points allowed per possession in 2012-13.But Okafor, who had back surgery in college, struggled with neck pain, and when doctors discovered he had herniated the C4 cervical disc, the injury forced him to step away from the game. In October 2013, Okafor and his expiring $14.5 million contract were dealt to?Phoenix?in a five-player?swap that netted the Wizards center Marcin Gortat. Okafor never played a game for the Suns.His best years were with the?Charlotte Bobcats, the team that drafted him as the second pick after Dwight Howard in the 2004 draft. Okafor averaged 15.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a rookie and posted double-double averages in all five of his seasons in Charlotte.Retired University of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said he spoke with Okafor last week. According to Calhoun, his former player, who helped UConn win a national championship in 2004 (while leading the nation in blocks), is really excited about getting back.Hes in great shape, Calhoun said. He had offers last season from teams for $6-7 million to play just a portion of the season, but you have to know Emeka. Hes only coming back when he feels the time is right.Hes not going to make a decision based on money. He doesnt need it. This is a kid who graduated with a 3.9 GPA. He wants to play a couple morre years then go to business school at Harvard.dddddddddddd. Hes only going to play for a contending team.Okafor turns 34 in September. League sources said last season he spoke with Cleveland, Miami and Golden State before deciding to delay his return. His decision to skip the grueling regiment of training camp and instead join a team a couple of months into the season is reminiscent of former major league pitcher Roger Clemens, who came out of retirement in 2006 to join his hometown?Houston Astros?two months into the baseball season.Warriors general manager Bob Myers, whose club lost big men Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights in the purge to make room for free agent Kevin Durant, said he had a conversation with Okafor a couple of months ago and will monitor the big mans progress.In the meantime, the Warriors have signed veterans David West and Zaza Pachulia to fill the void.We have 14 players right now, but you learn every year that someone you didnt expect to be available becomes an option, Myers said. Ideally, you try to have the flexibility to keep a spot open in case that happens.The biggest hurdle for Okafor will be to prove to teams hes both healthy and durable. Aside from his back and neck injuries, Okafor missed a chunk of 2005-06 with an ankle injury and part of 2011-12 with a knee injury.San Antonio?lost center Tim Duncan to retirement after 19 seasons and is likely in the market for big man insurance, but general manager R.C. Buford stopped short of expressing interest in Okafor.We always pay attention to whatever is out there, Buford said. But Emeka is three years removed from a time when his body was letting him down.Its just hard to get enough information to evaluate a player like that, who wont be in training camp, who hasnt had game action for a prolonged period of time.Calhoun said the long layoff has not only rejuvenated Okafor physically, but also mentally.He misses the game, Calhoun said. Hey, hes 6-10 and was a double-double guy in the NBA. Hes also the greatest guy you can find in the locker room. Hell have plenty of teams lining up to talk to him. ' ' '