Former Dodger and Beloved Camp Coach Ralph Branca Dies
Ralph was the 15th of 17 children of John and Katherine Branca. Born on January 6, 1926 in Mount Vernon, NY, he played basketball and baseball in high school until signed by the Dodgers in 1942 at the age of 16. He debuted in 1944 and became a three-time All-Star, winning 88 games during his 12-year major league career, including 21 for the Dodgers in 1947. But most baseball fans only remember him for a game he lost — the third and deciding game of a playoff for the National League pennant and a World Series berth in 1951. A high inside fastball to Bobby Thompson who, it was later disclosed, knew it was coming.
For years there were the four - Ralph, Duke, Clem and Carl - a regular part of our camp family and our connection to Brooklyn and the Boys of Summer. We lost some of that connection when Clem and then Duke passed but Ralph and Carl were always there. Then camp left Vero and our annual visits ended. We kept in touch via email or an occasional visit.
Now we are saddened in that one more string that has tied us together has been snipped. Our condolences to his wife Ann and the rest of his family. Ralph was a real mench and we will miss him dearly. Thank you Ralph for the "Memories."