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Baseball 101: Dynamic duos

Roger Maris, left, and Mickey Mantle, in 1961.

Roger Maris, left, and Mickey Mantle, in 1961. Credit: AP

Like salt and pepper or thunder and lightning or Batman and Robin, some things or some people just go together. It is hard to think of one without immediately envisioning the other. That always has been true in baseball, where pairs are plenty.

Often, there are partnerships that fit like hand and glove. We see that with teammates who play together for a decade or more, bringing out the best in each other. Some pairings, on the other hand, are like oil and water. Opponents can be linked by a famous confrontation.

Sometimes, baseball’s twosomes are not even people. Various statistics or ballpark menu items work best as tandems.

With that in mind, and inspired by the Yankees teaming up two 50-home run hitters this season, here is this season’s Baseball 101 . . . Dynamic Duos. (Note: Nos. 2-101 are a random ranking, not presented in order of importance.)

1. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris

For 34 years, Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in a season represented the holy grail of sports records. The total was grand enough to stand out in the collective imagination and simple enough to be easily remembered. Plus, the standard was held by a legend whose legacy was considered sacrosanct by many Americans.

From that context rose the greatest two-way, one-team home run chase baseball ever has seen. During the Yankees’ prodigious 1961 season, both Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris emerged as legitimate contenders to break the record set by Ruth in 1927. Newspapers across the country held contests, asking readers to pick which of the two would break through. New York newspapers dubbed them the M & M Boys.

Mantle and Maris found themselves racing against history – with Ruth’s widow and several Hall of Famers openly rooting against both of them. They also were up against time, given that the season was expanded in that expansion year to 162 games from 154, sparking controversy about whether the record would count if someone broke it during games 155-162. Commissioner Ford Frick said a “distinctive mark” would accompany such a record and said “yes” when sportswriter Dick Young suggested an asterisk.

Most of all, Maris and Mantle were competing against each other, and there was an overwhelming favorite. Teammate Moose Skowron is quoted in Phil Pepe’s book “1961*” as saying that even Yankees players were pulling for Mantle because he had superstar cachet.

What many people didn’t know was that the two were friends and roommates, sharing an apartment in Queens with fellow outfielder Bob Cerv. Pepe quotes Mantle as saying, “When I got hurt late in the season and knew I no longer had a shot at the record, I was pulling for Roger to do it as much as anybody.”

That is how it turned out. Mantle slumped, then came down with flu-like symptoms and went for a shot that created an abscess and led to him missing the final days and finished with 54. Maris, stressed so much that his hair was falling out, hit No. 61 on the final day of the season.

There never was an asterisk. And the M & M Boys’ 115 home runs still are the most in a season by two teammates — at least so far.

2. Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig

The original power partners, who cleared fences and stretched the imagination. They batted third and fourth and wore “3” and “4” as the Yankees introduced numbers on uniforms. In 1927, Ruth hit 60 home runs and Gehrig hit 47 at a time when homers were not common. No one else in the American League hit 20 and seven entire teams in the two leagues failed to hit as many as Gehrig did.

3. Hank Aaron & Eddie Mathews

In 14 seasons together as fencebusters with the Braves in Milwaukee and Atlanta, the two hit a combined 863 home runs, the most in history for two teammates. Aaron, a righthanded-hitting outfielder, finished with 755. Mathews, a lefthanded-hitting third baseman, finished with 512. When Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974, Mathews was the Braves’ manager.

4. Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale

The premier pitching combination in the early 1960s, when the Dodgers won three pennants and two World Series in a four-year span. Koufax won three Cy Young Awards and had three 20-win seasons. He led the NL in ERA five times and strikeouts four times. Drysdale won one Cy Young Award and had two 20-win seasons. The two future Hall of Famers held out together for better contracts in 1966.

5. Derek Jeter & Alex Rodriguez

Appeared together on the cover of Sports Illustrated Feb. 24, 1997, when they were stellar young shortstops and budding friends. During their epochal careers, they became Yankee teammates but had a strained relationship. In retirement, both remain larger than life, Jeter as an owner of the Miami Marlins, Rodriguez as a leading baseball analyst for two networks.

6. Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman

Seaver was the all-time Mets franchise player, inspiring what is arguably the most improbable finish in baseball history, the 1969 World Series title. He went 25-7 that year, and 2-1 in the postseason. Koosman, the lefthanded complement, also was an All-Star with a 17-9 season and pitched his second complete game of the Series in the clincher.

7. Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton

They figure to be such a dynamic show together that the Yankees have decided to open gates early so fans can watch batting practice.

8. Gary Sanchez & Aaron Judge

Before Stanton, the catcher was the “other” slugger in the Yankees’ lineup. Was in the 2017 Home Run Derby with Judge.

9. Giancarlo Stanton & AJ Ramos

The Yankees slugger and the Mets reliever were such close friends on the Marlins that they spoke during spring training of sharing an apartment in New York.

10. Phil & Joe Niekro

Brothers and fellow knuckleball pitchers (Joe also threw other pitches), they had a combined 539 major-league wins and were teammates on the Braves and Yankees. Phil is a Hall of Famer.

11. Clete & Ken Boyer

Brothers and fellow standout third basemen, they were opponents in the 1964 World Series for the Yankees and Cardinals, respectively. Ken out-homered Clete two to one in the Series, which his team won, 4-3. They shared New York in 1966, when Ken was a Met.

12. John Schuerholz & Bobby Cox

GM and manager, respectively, who worked together for 17 years with the Braves. The team won 14 consecutive division titles and a World Series in that time.

13. Abbott & Costello

The comedy team’s baseball routine “Who’s on First?” became so iconic that it is played on a loop at the Hall of Fame.

14. Mookie Wilson & Bill Buckner

Wilson’s ground ball through first baseman Buckner’s legs was the signature moment of the 1986 World Series, one they relived years later in appearances together.

15. Warren Spahn & Johnny Sain

Two standout pitchers for the 1948 Boston Braves. An editor for the Boston Post wrote a poem suggesting the otherwise thin rotation should involve those two “and followed, we hope, by two days of rain.” It was later condensed to, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.”

16. Fritz Peterson & Mike Kekich

The Yankees lefthanders and close friends announced during spring training of 1973 that they had swapped wives — and exchanged families, including dogs. Peterson stayed with Kekich’s former wife, but the other couple soon split up.

17. Tracy Stallard & Roger Maris

The future Met, working for the Red Sox, allowed Maris’ 61st home run of 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record.

18. Tom Glavine & Greg Maddux

The stars for the Braves in the 1990s appeared in a famous Nike commercial together and entered the Hall of Fame together in 2014.

19. “Pitchers & catchers”

A phrase indicating the first official day of spring training because players in those positions are required to report then. It has become a metaphor, used throughout the winter, pointing toward a change of seasons.

20. Johnny Podres & Roy Campanella

Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher and catcher, respectively, in victorious Game 7 of the 1955 World Series. They are depicted in sculptures that are exactly 60 feet, 6 inches apart on the south lawn of the Hall of Fame.

21. Hit & run

Popular strategy used to accelerate offense and avoid double plays. Actually a misnomer because the running comes before the hitting.

22. Phil Rizzuto & Jerry Coleman

Yankees double-play combination that was especially stellar in 1950 when Rizzuto, the shortstop, was the American League MVP and Coleman, the second baseman, joined him on the All-Star team. In the 1960s, they were broadcast partners for the team.

23. Steve Carlton & Tim McCarver

Batterymates on the Cardinals and in two stints with the Phillies. At the end of the latter’s career, he became Carlton’s personal catcher. McCarver joked that they someday should be buried 60 feet, 6 inches apart.

24. Nelson Doubleday & Fred Wilpon

Brought together in the 1980s by a mutual friend, Islanders owner John O. Pickett, the Mets’ co-owners orchestrated a dramatic turnaround for the franchise. But they often clashed, and Doubleday asked to be bought out in 2001.

25. Bob Sheppard & Eddie Layton

The public address announcer, dubbed “The Voice of God’’ by Reggie Jackson, and organist had adjoining booths at the original Yankee Stadium.

26. Tony La Russa & Dave Duncan

Manager and pitching coach, respectively, together on the White Sox, A’s and Cardinals from 1983 through 2011. They were ahead of trends in using video and statistical analyses. Won six pennants, three World Series.

27. Willie Mays & Willie McCovey

Giants teammates, usually hitting back-to-back in the lineup for 14 seasons. In that span, after McCovey joined the team late in 1959 before Mays was traded to the Mets in early 1972, they blasted a combined 784 homers.

28. Hot dog & a beer

Ballpark favorites, sold in great quantities by, among others, the Harry M. Stevens Co. concessionaire. The company says its founder invented the hot dog in 1901, when he ran out of wax paper for sausages during a game and used rolls.

29. Peanuts & Cracker Jack

Tandem featured in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” written by Jack Norworth, who had never been taken out to a ballgame.

30. “Baseball & Ballentine”

Commercial beer jingle featured on Yankees telecasts in the team’s heyday of the early 1960s. Lyrics included, “What a combination/All across the nation/Baseball and Ballentine!” (Mel Allen used the phrase “Ballentine Blast” to describe a Yankees home run).

31. Bud Harrelson & Pete Rose

Had a famous scuffle at second base during the 1973 NLCS. Later became friends, especially when Pete Jr. played for Bud’s Long Island Ducks.

32. Jose Altuve & Carlos Correa

Double-play combination and the heart of the offense and defense for the 2017 world champion Astros. Altuve, the second baseman, was AL batting champion and MVP. Correa, the shortstop, was 2015 Rookie of the Year and had five homers and 14 RBIs in 18 postseason games last season.

33. Max Scherzer & Stephen Strasburg

The righthanders had 16 and 15 wins, respectively, and a 2.51 and 2.52 ERA for the Nationals last season.

34. Kris Bryant & Anthony Rizzo

Corner infielders and cornerstone players in the Cubs’ revival and long-awaited World Series triumph in 2016.

35. Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield

Yankees teammates battled for the 1984 AL batting title, which was not decided until Mattingly’s single in his final at-bat. He finished at .343, Winfield .340.

36. Cooperstown & the Hall of Fame

The quaint, remote village in upstate New York has many attractions, such as the Glimmerglass Opera and Leatherstocking Golf Course. But for most Americans, the location and the baseball museum are synonymous — and mentioned interchangeably.

37. Curt Flood & Marvin Miller

Together, the outfielder and executive director of the Players Association challenged MLB’s reserve clause and opened the way to free agency — without preventing the sport from eventually becoming a $10-billion industry.

38. George Steinbrenner & Billy Martin

One of baseball’s most publicized and tempestuous relationships. Steinbrenner hired and fired Martin to manage the Yankees five times and was rumored to be considering a sixth term when Martin was killed in a car crash on Christmas night 1989. The pair appeared, arguing, in a classic beer commercial.

39. Billy Martin & Reggie Jackson

Bad blood between manager and superstar boiled over when Martin ordered Jackson to bunt, then took off the sign — and watched Jackson bunt anyway. Martin’s subsequent comment about Jackson and George Steinbrenner led to the manager’s first Yankee firing.

40. Tommie Agee & Cleon Jones

Friends since junior high in Mobile, Alabama (born five days apart), they played alongside each other on the Miracle Mets of 1969. Centerfielder Agee hit a leadoff homer and made two spectacular catches in Game 3 of the World Series. Leftfielder Jones, who hit .341 that season, was awarded first base in Game 5 when Gil Hodges showed a shoe polish-stained ball to the umpire. Jones caught the final out of the Series.

41. Harry Frazee & “No, No, Nanette”

Red Sox owner Frazee is said to have financed the Broadway musical by selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Author Leigh Montville learned in 2006 that it was the show’s non-musical predecessor, “My Lady Friends,” that was backed by the sale money in 1919.

42. Frank & Brooks Robinson

Two Hall of Famers played rightfield and third base, respectively, and led the Orioles to two World Series titles and four pennants from 1966 to 1971.

43. Bill Veeck & Eddie Gaedel

The irrepressible, promotions-minded Browns executive perhaps is best known for hiring the 3-foot-7 Gaedel to pinch hit in 1951. Gaedel wore a uniform belonging to Bill DeWitt Jr., then the 9-year-old son of the team owner and now the chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals.

44. Al Downing & Hank Aaron

The former Yankees pitcher, working for the Dodgers on April 8, 1974, surrendered Aaron’s 715th homer, the one that surpassed Babe Ruth’s seemingly untouchable career record. Both wore No. 44.

45. Jackie Robinson & Branch Rickey

The player who broke baseball’s color barrier, changing American society and history, forever will be linked to the general manager who promoted him to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

46. Pee Wee Reese & Jackie Robinson

A statue at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ park depicts Reese putting his hand on Robinson’s shoulder, commemorating an event said to have occurred in Cincinnati while spectators were harshly targeting the majors’ first African-American player.

47. Roberto Clemente & Willie Stargell

The rightfielder and leftfielder, respectively, were Pirates teammates for 11 years. Their tenure was highlighted by 1971, when Stargell led the NL with 48 homers and Clemente was World Series MVP.

48. Craig Biggio & Jeff Bagwell

Through 15 seasons, Houston’s Killer B’s played 2,020 games together — the most of any two teammates in major-league history. Biggio entered the Hall of Fame in 2015, Bagwell in 2017.

49. Billy Williams & Ron Santo

Cubs leftfielder and third baseman played 2,012 games together—the second most of any two teammates. They also were National League All-Star teammates five times. Both made the Hall of Fame.

50. Johnny & Eddie O’Brien

Twins from South Amboy, N.J., led Seattle University to national prominence in basketball, then played 89 games each as middle infielders for the Pirates in 1952.

51. Josh Gibson & Oscar Charleston

Gibson is credited with having hit nearly 800 homers in the Negro Leagues and Charleston is cited by some historians as having possibly been one of the 10 greatest ballplayers of all time. They were teammates on the 1931 Homestead Grays.

52. On-Base Plus Slugging

OPS, which is the sum of a batter’s on-base percentage and slugging average, emerged among baseball people as a top evaluation statistic in the past decade and led a wave of analytics.

53. Sam Crawford & Ty Cobb

The all-time leader and runner-up in triples, with 309 and 295, respectively, were Tigers teammates (1906-16) and won three pennants.

54. Luis Aparicio & Nellie Fox

White Sox shortstop and second baseman led the AL in turning double plays four times. Aparicio was 1956 Rookie of the Year, Fox 1959 MVP. Both are Hall of Famers.

55. Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens

The all-time home run king and the pitcher who ranks third in career strikeouts and ninth in wins are viewed as an entry because both are suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs and have failed to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

56. Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa

Their 1998 race to break Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 homers was seen as the shot in the arm baseball needed. McGwire finished with 70, Sosa had 66. Both achievements later were tainted by steroid suspicions and neither player has come close to Hall of Fame election.

57. Double plays

A pitcher’s best friend.

58. Joe DiMaggio & Marilyn Monroe

Legend says that when the movie star returned from a trip to Korea to entertain troops and told her husband, “Joe, you’ve never heard such cheering,” DiMaggio replied, “Yes I have.”

59. Leo Durocher & Laraine Day

The actress who appeared in nearly two dozen MGM movies was married to the firebrand baseball manager for 13 years, starting in 1947. After her husband’s team won the 1951 NL pennant, she wrote a book titled, “Day with the Giants.”

60. Justin Verlander & Kate Upton

Astros ace had to skip the post-World Series parade in Houston because he was flying to Italy to marry the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.

61. Jim Fregosi & Nolan Ryan

The trade (December 1971) the Mets wished they never had made.

62. Fathers & Sons

Connections accentuated at the ballpark, in the clubhouse as well as the stands. Major-leaguer Ray Boone had his son Bob tagging along and the latter became a big-leaguer, too. Same for Bob’s sons Bret and Aaron. The latter now is the Yankees’ manager.

63. Ken Griffey Sr. & Ken Griffey Jr.

Became the first father and son to take the field at the same time on Aug. 31, 1990, when they were teammates on the Mariners. Thirteen days later, they hit back-to-back homers. Junior was beginning a career that yielded a record percentage of Hall of Fame votes.

64. Tim Raines & Tim Raines Jr.

Played together for the Orioles as the father, winding up a Hall of Fame career, pinch hit in a game in which his son played centerfield.

65. Thurman Munson & Bobby Murcer

Close friends during the latter’s two terms with the Yankees. Munson stayed at Murcer’s Chicago apartment the last night of his life, then flew his plane home to Canton, Ohio. He crashed the next day practicing takeoffs and landings. Hours after the team attended his funeral, Murcer drove in all of the Yankees’ runs in a 5-4 win over the Orioles, including a walk-off two-run single.

66. Whitey Ford & Mickey Mantle

An unlikely twosome: pitcher and outfielder, city slicker and Oklahoma naif, the two Yankees became close friends and were enshrined together in Cooperstown in 1974.

67. Keith Hernandez & Ron Darling

When the two Manhattanites were helping the rollicking 1986 Mets win the World Series, who would have imagined that they still would be central figures with the franchise 32 years later, in the broadcast booth?

68. John Sterling & Suzyn Waldman

Radio duo, together on Yankees games since 2005, has developed a loyal following. One of the former’s trademark phrases to describe various oddities: “That’s baseball, Suzyn.”

69. Ralph Kiner & Bob Murphy

Members of the Mets’ original announcing crew in 1962, along with Lindsey Nelson. Both remained part of the team’s broadcasts through 2003.

70. Tommy John & Dr. Frank Jobe

The latter performed the first elbow reconstruction operation on the pitcher in 1974, a pro- cedure that became known as Tommy John surgery.

71. Juan Marichal & Johnny Roseboro

Frozen together in a photo depicting one of baseball’s ugliest incidents: Marichal hit Roseboro in the head with a bat during the Giants-Dodgers game Aug. 22, 1965.

72. Mike Piazza & Roger Clemens

Clemens beaned Piazza in the second game of a two-stadium Mets-Yankees doubleheader on July 8, 2000. Clemens threw the shard of a bat at Piazza during Game 2 of the World Series. All of which made for an awkward situation when they comprised the starting NL battery at the 2004 All-Star Game.

73. Tony Conigliaro & Jack Hamilton

Conigliaro, a star outfielder for the 1967 Red Sox, was hit in the eye by Hamilton’s pitch on Aug. 18 that year. Although Tony C had some good years after that, his career was shortened by the injury. The incident, albeit unintentional, defined Hamilton and was prominently mentioned in his obituary last month.

74. Dizzy & Daffy Dean

Against the Dodgers on Sept. 21, 1934, Dizzy pitched a three-hitter for the Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader. Then Daffy (Paul) threw a no-hitter. “If I’d known Paul was going to pitch a no-hitter, I’d have pitched one, too,” Dizzy said.

75. Charles O. Finley & Catfish Hunter

The cantankerous, promotion-conscious A’s owner bestowed the nickname on pitcher Jim Hunter — based on a story Finley invented — for publicity purposes. Hunter had the final word, though. Having won the 1974 Cy Young Award, he went to arbitration over Finley’s lateness in making an insurance payment, gained free agency and signed with the Yankees.

76. Pete Rose & Ray Fosse

In a burst of intensity unusual for All- Star Games, Rose bowled over the Indians catcher at home plate to score the winning run in the 1970 Midsummer Classic. The injured Fosse’s career never was the same.

77. Yankees-Red Sox

Baseball’s most storied rivalry, which technically dates to 1913, when the New York Highlanders officially became the Yankees.

78. Don Larsen & Yogi Berra

One of baseball’s indelible images is the sight of the catcher leaping into the pitcher’s arms after Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

79. Yogi Berra & Joe Garagiola

The two catchers grew up together in St. Louis and reached the major leagues. Garagiola’s success as an announcer and commentator — including a gig as anchor on the Today Show — was rooted in the funny stories he told about Berra.

80. Doc & Darryl

Dwight “Doc’’ Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, power pitcher and power hitter, galvanized and epitomized the Mets’ rise in the 1980s. Both were high first-round draft picks (Strawberry first overall in 1980, Gooden fifth overall in 1982). Both battled addictions and both wound up with the Yankees. Years later, they revealed that they never had been very close off the field.

81. Lou Gehrig & Cal Ripken

Among his many achievements, the latter’s greatest claim to fame was having broken the former’s record for most consecutive games played.

82. Bob Gibson & Denny McLain

Dual standard-bearers in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher. Gibson had a 1.12 ERA, McLain had 31 wins. McLain’s Tigers beat Gibson’s Cardinals in the World Series.

83. Lou Brock & Ernie Broglio

Probably few would be talking about Broglio, a serviceable pitcher with a winning record and 3.74 career ERA, had he not been on the wrong end of one of the most lopsided trades (between the Cubs and Cardinals in 1964).

84. Joe Torre & Don Zimmer

Torre became a Hall of Fame manager with the help of sage advice from the man sitting next to him in the Yankees’ dugout.

85. Don Zimmer & Pedro Martinez

Everyone involved soon grew to regret the 2003 confrontation between the 72-year-old Yankees coach and the Boston ace.

86. David Wright & Jose Reyes

Together, they solidified the left side of the Mets’ infield and represented the team’s rebirth after the Generation K era fizzled. They became good friends as they played together from 2003 through 2011 and were fellow All-Star starters in 2006.

87. Doubleheaders

Two games for a single admission price are now almost exclusively for rainout makeups. The Tampa Bay Rays had the only regularly scheduled twinbill last season.

88. Nolan Ryan & Robin Ventura

A popular and solid player and later a manager, Ventura always took razzing about the photo that showed him getting beaten up when he charged Ryan on the mound on Aug. 4, 1993.

89. Steven Matz & Marcus Stroman

Every major-league team scouted the April 16, 2009 high school game featuring the two future major-league pitchers. Matz struck out 12 and allowed one hit in Ward Melville’s 1-0 win over Patchogue-Medford. Stroman struck out 14 and gave up three hits.

90. Jim Bunning & Chris Short

They were the only two starting pitchers whom Phillies manager Gene Mauch trusted down the stretch in 1964. He started them a combined eight times in the final 12 games, but the Phillies still blew a 6½-game lead.

91. Willie Mays & Vic Wertz

They’re linked by the long drive Wertz hit to deep center during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, a shot that resulted in Mays’ unforgettable over-the-head catch.

92. Robin Yount & Paul Molitor

The first two 3,000-hit players who had spent the majority of their careers as teammates (Brewers, from 1978 through 1992).

93. Christy Mathewson & John McGraw

The pitcher, perhaps the sport’s first superstar, and the legendary manager teamed up with the 1903 Giants, putting New York baseball on the map.

94. Joe DiMaggio & Ted Williams

Two towering figures in baseball and 1940s American culture, mentioned in one breath especially in 1941, when DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games and Williams batted .406. Years later, stories surfaced that the Yankees and Red Sox once discussed trading one for the other.

95. Dodgers & Giants

Before they moved to California together, their interborough rivalry was so intense that Jackie Robinson retired in 1956 after the Giants traded for him.

96. Robert Moses & Walter O’Malley

Parks commissioner Moses proposed that the Brooklyn Dodgers move to Flushing, Queens. Dodgers owner O’Malley insisted on a domed stadium in Brooklyn (perhaps knowing it would be rejected). He moved the team to Los Angeles.

97. Charlie Lau & George Brett

The hitting guru and his prized pupil.

98. Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker

Trammell had only one misgiving when he was elected to the Hall of Fame in November: His Tigers double-play partner for 19 years was not chosen with him.

99. Mike Trout & Bryce Harper

Which one is the best player in baseball? The young outfielders, 26 and 25, respectively, are considered the top two in the game without a consensus on who ranks first.

100. Vin Scully & nobody

Dodgers broadcaster was in a class by himself.

101. Ralph Branca & Bobby Thomson

At the New York baseball writers dinner in 2003, Branca and Thomson did a skit with new words to the old song “Because of You.” That reprised an act they had done at the same dinner in 1952, months after the Dodgers’ Branca allowed the most renowned homer in baseball history, the three-run shot by the Giants’ Thomson that won the NL pennant. The two became close friends, often appearing together — before and after revelations that the Giants had used a system to steal signs. Branca never blamed the illegal system and Thomson said he didn’t use it on that pitch.

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