By Jan Crawford Greenburg, CNN • Published 19th September 2020
(CNN) — 70 years after having the definition of fate hammered into his skull, New York Mets slugger Bobby Thomson will carry a small weight of guilt for the rest of his life.
“The Curse of the Bambino” was born at shortstop at Shea Stadium on July 8, 1951, when Thomson scored on Jimmie Foxx’s long fly ball off Dodgers hurler Carl Erskine, even though the ball was still in the air and the score tied 1-1. The Dodgers went on to win the game, but the Mets took the World Series title over the Milwaukee Braves three games to one.
Fans continue to cringe when they think of the Mets, who have flirted with mediocrity or been swept in the playoffs for 20 consecutive seasons.
Mets fans have made it clear for generations they don’t want to hear it … the “Curse of the Bambino.”
“There’s always a special place in your heart for the Mets,” said Bill Dombrowski, who first came to the stadium as a 7-year-old fan and still calls it home. “Now and again, it’s funny, some kid will come up to me and say ‘Oh, you’re the Baby Amazin.'”
One of the most iconic stories in baseball history was transformed into a curse, along with the mystique of “The Splendid Splinter.” Thomson’s name was still enshrined in the Hall of Fame, until his wife threw him out of Cooperstown years ago after seeing her husband’s name on a sign bearing the name of another broken promise.
Over the years, the Mets dominated headlines for all the wrong reasons, letting stars leave, and piling up losses, despite having some of the top players in the game.
It was a foregone conclusion that Bobby Thomson’s baseball memento — the infamous homer — would stay in the vaults, but in 2002, Thomson convinced the Mets to give it a second life.
“The bones are basically in the basement of the stadium,” Thomson said at the time. “I think I got my ball for $2,000, I don’t know exactly what the money was. I spent $1,000 or $1,500 to have a steel plate in the base of my head to protect me.”
“Now I wish it was gone.”
So why not turn it into a tribute?
“It was just too embarrassing to have it all on display, so I pretty much got rid of it,” Thomson told CNN in a 2007 interview. “I can get away with not having it anymore, because I could say I’m of no consequence.”
That’s not the case anymore. The ball is now part of the Mets’ Major League Baseball Memorial Hall of Fame and Museum, as told by Thomson’s daughter, Evelyn Reynolds.
“It was the meaning of the season. It was something that was memorable to us, in order to understand what happened that night, it was important that Bobby be there to tell the story,” she said.
And Thomson has always refused to retire the baseball, even as New York fans get antsy about another day when that ball, and that end, are history.
“The whole thing hurts my gut,” Thomson said. “It’s something that I certainly don’t want to be associated with the Mets in anyway, but it’s also something that’s part of my legacy, so you can’t wipe away your history.”