Ralph Branca

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.