Ralph Branca, a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, died this week at age 90.
According to Branca’s son-in-law, Bobby Valentine, Branca passed away on Wednesday morning.
“One of the greatest guys to ever throw a pitch or sing a song is longer with us. Ralph Branca Passed this morning,” Valentine wrote on Twitter. “In his 91st year on Earth he left us with same dignity and grace that defined his everyday on earth. He will be truly missed!!!”
Though many sports fans may not know Branca’s name, they probably remember his involvement in one of the greatest baseball games of all time.
Branca, then pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers, gave up a game-winning home run to the late Bobby Thompson during a 1951 playoff series with the New York Giants. The home run propelled the crosstown rivals to victory.
Baseball historians will also remember Branca as being one of the first Brooklyn Dodgers to publicly embrace Jackie Robinson, the first African American to regularly play Major League Baseball.
In a 2014 interview, Branca reflected on that moment.
“It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re Jewish, black, or whatever. I judge people for who they are,” he said.
With Branca’s death, the number of living men who put on the uniform for the famed Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team now stands at 25.