The Shot Heard Round the World

by Richard Mansel, managing editor
bobbythompson1.jpgBobby Thompson recently passed away at the age of 86 in Savannah, Georgia./1 He was famous for hitting a legendary home run in 1951 that is considered by some to be the most exciting home run in baseball history. His exploit is branded into baseball lore as, “The shot heard round the world.”
The underdog New York Giants baseball team played the Brooklyn Dodgers to determine the National League pennant and to select a team for the World Series. Tied in a best of three battle, this series was the first to be broadcast on national television./2
Thompson came to the plate in the ninth inning against Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca and hit the second pitch into the bleachers. Russ Hodges’ call is legendary: “The Giants win the pennant and they’re going crazy. They’re going crazy, I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it, I will not believe it.”/3
Thompson never again attained the level of fame inspired by his homerun. Yet, to his death decades later, his accomplishment still resonates and wire services sizzled with news of his passing.
Nearly two thousand years ago, another man burned a moment into the history of humanity by delivering the sermon that changed the world for all time.
The Sermon on the Mount is so stunning that it requires a lifetime to consume its wisdom. Jesus’ words were miles from anything man was hearing at the time. It is difficult to imagine the people of the day absorbing the breadth of what they were hearing.
“Simple and straightforward in its pronouncement, the Sermon on the Mount has long been recognized as the loftiest ideal for human conduct ever conceived.”/4 Even Mohandas Gandhi called it the “world’s finest collection of ethical teaching.”/5 Augustine said it was “the perfect pattern of the Christian life.”/6
In his time on earth, Jesus established himself as the most serious force anyone had ever seen. The religious leaders of the day eventually killed him because he was such a threat to their ungodly power structure. Yet, the grave could not hold him (Matthew 28:1-8).
As we read the Sermon on the Mount, we need to remember the gravity of what was happening. Matthew, normally a man of profound understatement, wrote that the people “were astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 7:28). We still are.
2/ Ibid.
/4. “Sermon the Mount” in “The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 4:441
5/ Ibid.
6/ Ibid.

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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