1951 New York Giants (MLB) season

1951 New York Giants
National League Champions
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) Horace Stoneham
General manager(s) Chub Feeney
Manager(s) Leo Durocher
Local television WPIX
(Russ Hodges, Ernie Harwell)
Local radio WMCA
(Russ Hodges, Ernie Harwell)
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The 1951 New York Giants season was the franchise's 69th season and saw the Giants finish the regular season in a tie for first place in the National League with a record of 96 wins and 58 losses. This prompted a three-game playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers, which the Giants won in three games, clinched by Bobby Thomson's walk-off home run, a moment immortalized as the Shot Heard 'Round the World.[1] The Giants, however, lost the 1951 World Series to the New York Yankees in six games.


Spring training

The Giants had trained in Phoenix since 1947. In 1951, the team swapped spring training sites with the New York Yankees, with the Yankees moving to Phoenix and the Giants training at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a one-year arrangement and the Giants would return to Phoenix in 1952.[2]

Notable transactions

Regular season

Center fielder Willie Mays made his major league debut in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25.[6] He went on to win the 1951 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Outfielder Monte Irvin led the league in RBI with 121. Five players on the 1951 Giants team went on to become major league managers.[7] Eddie Stanky (1952), Bill Rigney (1956), Alvin Dark (1961), Wes Westrum (1965) and Whitey Lockman (1972).[7]

In June, future NFL Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli was offered a tryout with the New York Giants. The Giants offered Robustelli a $400 contract to play with Class AA Knoxville.[8]

Season standings

National League W L Pct. GB Home Road
New York Giants 9859 0.624 50–28 48–31
Brooklyn Dodgers 9760 0.618 1 49–29 48–31
St. Louis Cardinals 8173 0.526 15½ 44–34 37–39
Boston Braves 7678 0.494 20½ 42–35 34–43
Philadelphia Phillies 7381 0.474 23½ 38–39 35–42
Cincinnati Reds 6886 0.442 28½ 35–42 33–44
Pittsburgh Pirates 6490 0.416 32½ 32–45 32–45
Chicago Cubs 6292 0.403 34½ 32–45 30–47

Record vs. opponents

1951 National League Records

Boston 10–12–110–1210–128–1412–1013–913–9
Brooklyn 12–10–114–814–814–1115–710–1218–4
Chicago 12–108–1410–127–157–159–139–13–1
Cincinnati 12–108–1412–105–1711–1112–10–18–14
New York 14–811–1415–717–516–614–811–11
Philadelphia 10–127–1515–711–116–1615–79–13
Pittsburgh 9–1312–1013–910–12–18–147–155–17
St. Louis 9–134–1813–9–114–811–1113–917–5

The comeback

After a slow start, the team went 50–12 over their final 62 games to complete one of the biggest comebacks in major league history. Longstanding rumors that the Giants engaged in systematic sign stealing during the second half of the 1951 season were confirmed in 2001. Several players told the Wall Street Journal that beginning on July 20, the team used a telescope, manned by coach Herman Franks in the Giants clubhouse behind center field, to steal the finger signals of those opposing catchers who left their signs unprotected. Stolen signs were relayed to the Giants dugout via a buzzer wire.[9] Joshua Prager, the author of the Journal article, outlined the evidence in greater detail in a 2008 book.[10] He noted that sign stealing, then as now, is not specifically forbidden by MLB rules and, moral issues aside, "...has been a part of baseball since its inception".[11]

The playoff

At the end of the season, they were tied with their arch-rivals, the Dodgers, for first place in the League, prompting a three-game playoff for the pennant. The Giants had home field advantage for the series.

Game 1

The first game of the series was played at Ebbets Field. Jim Hearn started for the Giants against Ralph Branca for the Dodgers. Monte Irvin and Bobby Thomson homered for the Giants, powering them to a 3–1 win. Andy Pafko hit a home run for the only Dodgers run.[12]

Game 2

The series moved to the Polo Grounds for game two. Sheldon Jones took the mound for the Giants against the Dodgers' Clem Labine. Jones was pulled in the third inning despite giving up just two runs, one of which was a Jackie Robinson homer. However, the game went downhill from there, as the Dodgers abused relievers George Spencer and Al Corwin for eight more runs, while Labine pitched a six-hit shutout for a 10–0 shellacking. Pafko hit his second homer of the series, while Gil Hodges and Rube Walker added home runs of their own.[13]

Game 3

Game three was also held at the Polo Grounds. Sal "The Barber" Maglie was on the mound for New York, while Brooklyn called on Don Newcombe. After Maglie walked two batters in the top of the first, Jackie Robinson singled home the game's first run. The score remained 1–0 until the bottom of the seventh. In that inning, Monte Irvin led off with a double for the Giants. He was bunted over to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bobby Thomson.[14]

In the top of the eighth, the Dodgers came roaring back with three runs off Maglie. A pair of singles, a wild pitch, and two more singles made the score 4–1 Dodgers. Newcombe sat down the Giants in order in the bottom of the eighth, while Larry Jansen did the same in relief of Maglie.[14]

The "shot heard 'round the world"

In the bottom of the ninth, Alvin Dark led off with a single, and Don Mueller followed with another. After Monte Irvin popped out to first base, Whitey Lockman lined a double to left-center field, scoring Dark and putting Mueller on third. Dodger manager Chuck Dressen summoned game 1 starter Ralph Branca in to relieve Newcombe, despite having only had one day's rest. On his second pitch, Bobby Thomson drove a pitch to deep left field for a walk-off home run to clinch the pennant for the Giants.[14] This home run, hit at 3:58 p.m. EST on October 3, 1951, came to be known as the "Shot Heard 'Round the World".

The phrase shot heard 'round the world is from a classic poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, originally used to refer to the first clash of the American Revolutionary War and since used to apply to other dramatic moments, military and otherwise. In the case of Thomson's home run, it was particularly apt as U.S. servicemen fighting in the Korean War listened to the radio broadcast of the game.

Thomson's homer, and the Giants' victory, are also sometimes known as the Miracle of Coogan's Bluff.

Line score

Polo Grounds

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Brooklyn 100 000 030 480
New York 000 000 104 580
WP: Larry Jansen (23–11)   LP: Ralph Branca (13–12)


1951 New York Giants
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters



Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CWes Westrum12436179.2192070
1BWhitey Lockman153614173.2821273
2BEddie Stanky145515127.2471443
3BHank Thompson8726462.235833
SSAlvin Dark156646196.3031469
OFMonte Irvin151558174.31224121
OFWillie Mays121464127.2742068
OFDon Mueller122469130.2771669

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Bobby Thomson148518152.29332101
Ray Noble5514133.234526
Bill Rigney446916.23249
Davey Williams306417.26628
Spider Jorgensen285112.23528
Jack Lohrke23408.20013
Sal Yvars254113.31723
Clint Hartung21449.20502
Artie Wilson19224.18201
Jack Maguire16208.40014
Earl Rapp13111.09101
Hank Schenz800---00


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Sal Maglie422982362.93146
Larry Jansen39278.223113.04145
Jim Hearn34211.11793.6266

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Dave Koslo39149.21093.3154
Sheldon Jones41120.16114.2658
Al Corwin1559513.6630
Roger Bowman926.1246.1524
Jack Kramer44.20015.432

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
George Spencer5710463.7536
Monty Kennedy291202.2522
Al Gettel301204.8736
Alex Konikowski30000.005
George Bamberger200018.001
Red Hardy20006.750

1951 World Series

Game 1

October 4, 1951, at Yankee Stadium in New York City

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York (N) 200 003 000 5101
New York (A) 010 000 000 171
W: Dave Koslo (1–0)   L: Allie Reynolds (0–1)
HR: NYGAlvin Dark (1)

Game 2

October 5, 1951, at Yankee Stadium in New York City

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York (N) 000 000 100 151
New York (A) 110 000 01x 360
W: Ed Lopat (1–0)   L: Larry Jansen (0–1)
HR: NYYJoe Collins (1)

Game 3

October 6, 1951, at the Polo Grounds in, New York City

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York (A) 000 000 011 252
New York (N) 010 050 00x 672
W: Jim Hearn (1–0)  L: Vic Raschi (0–1)
HR: NYYGene Woodling (1)   NYGWhitey Lockman (1)

Game 4

October 8, 1951, at the Polo Grounds in, New York City

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York (A) 010 120 200 6120
New York (N) 100 000 001 282
W: Allie Reynolds (1–1)  L: Sal Maglie (0–1)
HR: NYYJoe DiMaggio (1)

Game 5

October 9, 1951, at the Polo Grounds in New York City

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York (A) 005 202 400 13121
New York (N) 100 000 000 153
W: Ed Lopat (2–0)  L: Larry Jansen (0–2)
HR: NYYGil McDougald (1),  Phil Rizzuto (1)

Game 6

October 10, 1951, at Yankee Stadium in New York City

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York (N) 000 010 002 3111
New York (A) 100 003 00x 470
W: Vic Raschi (1–1)   L: Dave Koslo (0–1)   S: Bob Kuzava (1)

Awards and honors

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Minneapolis Millers American Association Tommy Heath
AAA Ottawa Giants International League Hugh Poland
A Jacksonville Tars Sally League Ben Geraghty
A Sioux City Soos Western League Frank Genovese
B Sunbury Giants Interstate League Charlie Fox
B Knoxville Smokies Tri-State League Jack Aragón
C St. Cloud Rox Northern League Harold Kollar
C Idaho Falls Russets Pioneer League Red Jessen
C Muskogee Giants Western Association Hal Bamberger
D Bristol Twins Appalachian League Russ Wein
D Sanford Giants Florida State League Richie Klaus
D Springfield Giants Ohio–Indiana League Andy Gilbert
D Lawton Giants Sooner State League Ray Baker
D Lenoir Red Sox Western Carolina League Claude Jonnard, Okey Flowers and John Olsen
D Oshkosh Giants Wisconsin State League Dave Garcia



  1. "1951 The Shot Heard 'Round the World". thisgreatgame.com. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  2. "Major Leaguers to Start Spring training Feb. 20". The Evening Independent. January 19, 1951. p. 14. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
  3. Tom Acker at Baseball-Reference
  4. Dom Zanni at Baseball-Reference
  5. Don Taussig at Baseball-Reference
  6. Willie Mays at Baseball-Reference
  7. 1 2 Peterson, Armand. "The Baseball Biography Project: Wes Westrum". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  8. Giants Among Men, Jack Cavanaugh, p.7, 2008, Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6717-6
  9. Prager, Joshua Harris (January 31, 2001). "Inside Baseball: Giants' 1951 Comeback, The Sport's Greatest, Wasn't All It Seemed". Wall Street Journal.
  10. Prager, J: The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and The Shot Heard Round the World. New York: Vintage Books, 2008. ISBN 0375713077.
  11. Prager (2006), p. 162
  12. Game 1 box score from Baseball-Reference
  13. Game 2 box score from Baseball-Reference
  14. 1 2 3 Game 3 Box score from Baseball-Reference
  15. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd and 3rd editions. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997 and 2007
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