Assembly on Bobby Thompson

A few years ago I volunteered to do an assembly to start off the school year. Being the start of the year, I chose an inspirational theme, and baseball usually calls when it comes to me and inspiration, and so of course I went with the 1951 pennant and good ole Bobby Thompson. There wasn’t much jazz to that assembly, mostly the kids presenting a prepared text, and the only video was the footage of him rounding the bases and getting pummeled by the third base coach (to great laughter).

The kids that I taught then were in their junior year of high school, forming their identity as a teenager making it in an English speaking world. So I thought they could all identify with a team that went on a crazy winning streak just to tie and make it into the playoffs. Suddenly it’s sudden death: Ninth inning, they’re down by two runs, two outs, and the other team’s hallmark pitcher comes to the mound. Bam. The guy hits a walk-off homerun to win it. Bobby didn’t do much else in the big leagues, but he didn’t have to, such was the greatness of that moment.

Plus the aftermath: Allegations of sign stealing, yet the pitcher and batter remained good friends well into old age. Backdrop of Jackie Robinson and the advent of worldwide, live TV. Even the superstition angle of the pitcher wearing number 13, but then changing to 12 immediately after. Such a great story.

In August with the first assembly out of the gate I’m thinking about reusing Bobby. Except this time using technology in a savvy way, doing a multi-media version that recreates and contextualizes the “Shot Heard Round the World.” Maybe play off the historical angle a bit more. It’d be kind cool to contextualize it by noting that the pitcher, Branca, was really good, sort of like facing Rivera when you’re down by two runs. But that’s probably a stretch. It’s probably a stretch I’d get away with though.

There’s some pretty cool videos that breaks down Rivera’s pitches. Imagine that playing in the same assembly with the black-n-white grainy footage of Thompson rounding the bases in his victory lap. What a way to showcase the march of history.

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  1. “The Shot Heard Around the World” has many angles. You’ve hit a good number of them. The Dodgers were baseball’s perennial “wait ’til next year team” but loved by legions around the country.

    It pleases me when you use social moments to teach children about life.

    I was five years old when this happened, and I heard about it for decades later.

    Imagine if this game were held today. It would be broadcasted at night when small children are in bed. Back then, kids could leave school or listen to the game in their class rooms. It was a carnival atmosphere.

    Final call: “The Giants win the pennant; the Dodgers are the wild card”. Sorry, but I stole this line.