The Bill Belichick Scandal: A $1.7 Million Fraud?
Harrison’s beady little eyes glazed over, and he said nothing. Will continued to press his case for an exposé on dishonest practices of “America’s favorite pastime,” and Harrison sat mute. Finally the publisher said, “Thanks, Will, I’ll call ya.” He never did.
Little did Will Oursler know that the unsavory business of signal stealing in professional sports would be a huge story 40 years later.
“The Shot Heard Round the World”
I’m not talking about the New England Patriots shamefully videotaping the defensive signals of their opponents. Sports Illustrated called the following story the second greatest sports moment of the 20th century. (The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team win over the Russians topped the list.) From Joshua Harris Prager’s exposé in The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 31, 2001:
Bobby Thomson, the New York Giants’ third baseman, stands poised in the batter’s box. In the bottom of the ninth inning in the final game of a playoff, his team trails the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-2, with two men on base. Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca’s fastball hurtles toward him. Mr. Thomson swings, he connects, and the ball sails over he left-field wall and into history.
That home run capped an unprecedented comeback by the Giants, propelled the team to the 1951 World Series, and secured Robert Brown Thomson’s name in American lore.
Months shy of its 50th anniversary, Mr. Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” echoes ever louder. ...
It turned out that the Giants had devised a system of stealing the opposing team’s signals during home games. Coach Herman Franks, peering through a spyglass from a perch in Manager Leo Durocher’s locked office, would focus on Dodger catcher Roy Campenella’s crotch and read the finger signals he was making to the pitcher. Beside him was a button that rang a buzzer in the center field bullpen.