This Day in Baseball History: March 13th, 1954

This was in 1776.

On March 13, 1954:

Milwaukee Brave Bobby Thomson breaks his ankle in three places.

With the National League pennant on the line in 1951, Thomson would hit one of the most famous home runs in major-league history — the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”. At that time, playoffs did not exist as they did today. The only time a pennant was won in a playoff was when the first and second place teams ended in a tie, which was the case in 1951. Thomson would follow that 1951 season, which was an incredible one even without that home run, with two other stellar seasons, but the Giants traded him away in February of 1954 to the Braves, who were in need of a home-run threat.

The Braves got their home-run threat that season, but it wasn’t Thomson. In a Spring Training game, Thomson broke his ankle in three places while sliding into second. The next day, a highly-touted shortstop prospect who had not played above single-A would make his debut. That prospect was Hank Aaron. Luckily, the previous fall, the Braves asked Aaron to play the outfield in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Aaron made a statement in that first Spring Training game by smashing a home run. He would then go on to post a .280/.322/.447 line in 122 games for the Braves in 1954 as a 20-year old, but he would make his real breakthrough the next season.

We know how Aaron’s career ended, but what about Thomson? Thomson would only play 43 games in 1954, and it appeared that his career was over. He would go on to post a couple decent seasons before being traded back to the Giants in 1957. The next season, he would be traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he would have bounceback season, but it lasted only one season. That one fateful day ended a promising career prematurely, but it did begin another one prematurely as well. Get Jason Heyward in left!

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