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The Early Lead
Posted at 02:59 PM ET, 09/29/2011

Evan Longoria delivers Rays with a shot out of Bobby Thomson’s book


Evan Longoria takes off. (J. Meric / Getty Images)
Evan Longoria might not have been the obvious choice in a pregame poll to determine the guy most likely to be mentioned in the same breath as Bobby Thomson.

But there he was, hitting his second home run of the game, a walk-off dinger that beat the New York Yankees in the 12th ining and clinched the wild card for the Tampa Bay Rays. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Longoria and Thomson are the only men to have hit playoff-clinching walk-off home runs in the final game of the regular season and even Evan couldn’t believe what he’d done.

“When I saw [the ball] clear the fence, it didn't seem real,” Longoria said. “I'm running around the bases thinking, ‘Wow, did this really happen?’ ”

It did — although the eras are quite different. Longoria’s home run came 60 years after Thomson’s “shot heard ’round the world” lifted the New York Giants. Elias notes that that home run came in the final game of a best-of-three playoff but adds “tie-breaker playoff games and series such as that Giants-Dodgers best-of-three playoff in 1951 have always been regarded as regular-season games.”

Ben Zobrist explained the feeling on the bench in Tampa, a description that sounded like it might have come straight out of 1951 (a time that also was on the mind of The Post’s Tom Boswell).

“I can't describe it. It's just elation,” Zobrist said. “We're just going crazy on the bench. When we found out that [Boston] lost, we were like, ‘We got this. We got to win this game. Right here.’ ”

By  |  02:59 PM ET, 09/29/2011

 
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