Ralph Branca’s Cameo in Parental Guidance

Photo by Tim Sieck

This weekend I went to see Parental Guidance.  Make no mistake, it will win no awards and it may not be remembered at all six months from now.  I went to see it for two reasons.  It was at the Palace Theater in Vinton, and I’ll spend $3 to see just about anything, and it stars Billy Crystal.

There’s a theme that runs through the film.  Billy Crystal is an unemployed baseball announcer and he carries around an iPod loaded with famous announcer calls in baseball history.  He has a grandson with a speech impediment, and in one scene he has the boy listen to the call of Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world.  He tells him to close his eyes while he’s listening and he’ll be able to see the action.

At the end of the movie, while at an children’s orchestra audition, the boy steps up to the microphone during a break and recites, word for word, the radio announcer’s call of Thompson’s homerun.  No stuttering at all.  Just a perfect recreation of the call.  The camera pans to the judges, and right there in the middle of the table, is Ralph Branca, the pitcher who threw the pitch that Thompson hit out.

Most people would have no clue it was Branca.  It’s incredible that at 87, he is still a good sport about what was undoubtedly the worse moment in his baseball career.