Thomson admitted he'd benefited from stolen signs, and it didn't matter that he denied getting advanced intel on Branca's fateful up-and-in pitch. Ralph told his family. He also bled in public for athletes doomed to a lifetime of reliving big-game failures; Branca said he wrote a letter of support to Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood, who went wide right with a Super Bowl on the line. Though he dealt in the currency of self-deprecation and made a few bucks engaging in a traveling vaudeville act with Thomson, Branca privately smoldered over his fate. Ann Mulvey Branca and Ralph Branca were married for 65 years before Ralph Branca died, leaving behind his partner and 1 child. Branca spent his final six months in a Westchester County nursing home, where he was visited by his daughters, his bride of 65 years, his son-in-law Valentine, and his nephew John, an entertainment lawyer who represented Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones. Late in life, Ralph learned that his mother had been Jewish at birth in her native Hungary; several of his aunts, uncles, and cousins had perished in Nazi death camps. news Ralph Branca would often say he felt Jackie Robinson did even more than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for African-Americans, and his argument was simple: Robinson had come along first. He was a grinder in every way. Branca's life holds up against this standard. He retired from baseball in 1956, and went into the insurance industry. But Branca didn't realize he was giving much of anything on that clear, crisp afternoon in Brooklyn nearly 70 years ago. Branca famously stood next to Robinson during Opening Day introductions at Ebbets Field, though they started to get acquainted during an exhibition game the previous week when Robinson, then a minor-league member of the Montreal Royals, mumbled a word of gratitude to the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher while passing by the mound. On April 15, 1947, Branca was the artful Dodger who stood next to Robinson at Ebbets Field and wished him a prosperous journey. The Giants win the pennant!" Branca asked the new guy how he was feeling before taking on the Boston Braves. Help keep Ralph Branca profile up to date. Branca was a pallbearer at his funeral at New York's Riverside Church, and he remained a loyal advocate for Rachel Robinson, who started a foundation in her husband's name. Branca's friendship with Robinson inspired his nephew to start a youth baseball organization in the Los Angeles area, Club 42, designed through scholarships to reconnect young African-American athletes to baseball. Pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1944-1953 & 1956), Detroit Tigers (1953-1954), and New York Yankees (1954). He is most remembered for New York Yankees. The pitcher answered, "I would've died a hero.". He was a three-time All-Star. Branca played for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1944–1953, 1956), Detroit Tigers (1953–1954), and New York Yankees (1954). The inscription on Robinson's tombstone inside Brooklyn's Cypress Hills Cemetery reads, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." Connect any celebrity with Ralph Branca to see how closely they are linked... romantically! King was a college kid at Morehouse in 1947, when Robinson did something that once seemed as wildly improbable as someday landing a man on the moon. Bragan, the backup catcher from Alabama, started a youth foundation that awarded college scholarships to students, including some African-American applicants who wrote essays about Robinson. film, The son of an immigrant trolley-car conductor, Ralph was the 15th of 17 children and among the Branca boys who would sleep in the attic of the family's one-bathroom house. Other Works His daughter Mary, who would marry Bobby Valentine, saw the burden wear on her father at home. "I was only doing what I was taught to do.". There were 6,000 empty seats at Ebbets Field, and Red Smith and the rest of the gathered press all but ignored Robinson in their reports. But the Robinson-Branca partnership had a lasting impact on many Americans who saw professional sports as the first public arena where whites and blacks successfully worked together toward a common goal. were all over Branca's obituaries, as were tales of how the pitcher befriended Thomson and gracefully managed the Shakespearean tragedy that was Oct. 3, 1951. His zodiac sign is Capricorn. American Baseballer Ralph Branca was born Ralph Theodore Joseph Branca on 6th January, 1926 in Mount Vernon, New York, USA and passed away on 23rd Nov 2016 Rye Brook, New York, USA aged 90. The Dodgers were playing one afternoon in St. Louis, a city that could be particularly unforgiving to black ballplayers, when Robinson chased a foul ball to the edge of the visitors dugout. Ralph became chairman of the Baseball Assistance Team, which provided financial aid to baseball figures in need. His father was an Italian immigrant who worked as a barber, plumber, mechanic, house painter. He signed with the Dodgers in 1943, when he was 17, and made his major league debut a year later. Ralph Branca After Giving Up Bobby Thomson's Home Run In 1951, Jackie Robinson, Ralph Branca & Pee Wee Reese. "If it wasn't for you we wouldn't even have been here. Branca talked with Robinson about their college experiences, something many big leaguers couldn't relate to. For 17 years, he also was president and chief executive of the nonprofit Baseball Assistance Team, providing financial help to former ballplayers who are struggling. He was married to Ann Mulvey. to add information, pictures and relationships, join in discussions and get credit for your contributions. According to our records, Ralph Branca is possibly single. His heart sank instead. The most important day and season in the history of American team sports. Ready to start changing a separate and unequal nation. photos, "Hang in there Ralph," Robinson told him. So at the close of 2016, a year that exposed stubborn and depressing racial divisions across the country, it's worth remembering the first white ballplayer to act as a human bridge between a black colleague and so many lost, ignorant souls. On Robinson's arrival in 1947, Branca lobbied the resistant Dodgers to set aside their racist beliefs for the good of the team. Shortly after appearing at the 1972 World Series and calling on the game's elders to hire black managers, Robinson died of a heart attack in his home. "If you don't want to socialize with Jackie," Branca told them, "at least work with him. In 1997, when people of all colors and creeds couldn't do enough to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Robinson's breakthrough, Rachel said this about the man who helped Jackie navigate his way around the racism in his own clubhouse, and the taunts from opposing players, managers, and fans: "Ralph Branca was good to my husband when it wasn't fashionable to be good to him.". and more from, Hawk, Ralph Theodore Joseph Branca, Ralph Branca, Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York, USA, Himself - Retired Baseball Player (1 episode, 2007), Himself (5 episodes, 2000-2004), Himself (1 episode, 1974), Himself (1 episode, 1980), Himself - Brooklyn Dodgers Pitcher (3 episodes, 1947). Life being as unfair as it is, Branca's career wasn't defined by the Robinson storyline.