Earlier this week the baseball world lost Ralph Branca (1926-2016) at the age of 90. Branca had a twelve year career in the motor leagues, most spent with the Brooklyn Dodgers, rolled up a record of 88-68 with a 3.79 ERA. His best year was in 1947 when he was 21-12 with a 2.67 ERA, and he played in two World Series. None of that, though is how Branca has been and always will be remembered. Do I really have to tell you WHY he is immortal? In Game Three of the 1951 tie-breaker playoff to determine the National League pennant winner, it was Branca who served up the bottom of the ninth home run to the Giants' Bobby Thomson. It was "the shot heard 'round the world", and remains to this day, (sorry Pirates fans) the single most famous home run in baseball history.
Branca didn't take it well, but he came to accept his moment of infamy, and in later years, he joined with Thomson in peddling his autograph, so he did cash in on it to some degree.
That's Branca on the right making the long trek to the Polo Grounds club house as the Giants celebrate.
Today we learned of the death of Florence Henderson at the age of 82. A Broadway musical theater actress by trade, Henderson became a television star, and will be forever remembered as Carol Brady in the 1970's sitcom, "The Brady Bunch". The show ran from 1969 to 1974, and it will no doubt continue to run forever on the "Classic TV" cable stations. Henderson continued to act in such shows as "Love Boat", "Fantasy Island", talk and variety shows, even "Dancing With the Stars", but she was always Mrs. Brady, and she certainly wore that well.
It was while reading something else earlier this week, when I learned that true crime author Ann Rule had died in July 2015, and I completely missed i at the time. However, in my mind, she is an Absent Friend worth noting. If you are someone who loves to read True Crime books, you are no doubt familiar with Ann Rule.
Her breakthrough book was "The Stranger Beside Me" that was published in 1980, about serial killer Ted Bundy. She would go on to write dozens of other such books. My own personal favorite was "And Never Let Her Go" (1999). I also once met Ann Rule at a book signing at the Mystery Lovers Book Store in Oakmont, and she discussed her latest book and did a Q&A session afterward.
All her books are out there, folks. Go to the library, bookstore, or Amazon if true crime is a genre that interests you. No one did it better than Ann Rule.
RIP Ralph Branca, Florence Henderson, and Ann Rule.