Wednesday Feature: The Shot Heard Round the World

Happy Hump Day subscribers and readers! With best intentions met, every Wednesday I’ll add a post totally unconnected to healthcare, health policy, economics, etc. These brief notes are the remnants of an old fun precedent I set for myself and my staff. They are meant to be inspirational, educational, and fun. Sort of a way to break-up the week and begin a fun journey into the remainder of the week and into the weekend. I hope you enjoy!

Today is the anniversary of the original “Shot heard round the world”. This phrase has been tied to three historic events (and other lesser events) one arguably, far more meaningful than the others. History buffs (I am one) will connect the dots quite quickly to the first reference but maybe not the second or third. The third and less historically significant “shot” aligns with baseball trivia. I’ll fill that piece in at the end.

Today is the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War – April 19, 1775. The “shot” is reference to the first gunshots that rang out at the start of the battles of Lexington and Concord, in Massachusetts, not far from Boston. The phrase comes from the opening lines of a poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn”. Emerson was referencing a battle/skirmish that his father and grandfather saw along the Old North Bridge in Concord. What is interesting about this reference aligning with the start of war is that the shots Emerson refers to are not the initial gunfire exchanged. The initial shot occurred at Lexington Green when British regulars encountered colony militia. Though neither group were ordered to fire, a shot from somewhere occurred and an exchange of gunfire took place.

The second reference of “shot heard round the world” has international connections. This reference is to the “shots” or “shot” that occurred during the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria Hungary. He was assassinated in Sarajevo (Yugoslavia) on June 28, 1914. Two shots were fired by the killer, one hitting Ferdinand’s wife Duchess Sophie and the second, killing Ferdinand. The significance of this shot and the event is that it is often referred to as the political genesis of WW I. The assassination basically pushed Austria-Hungary and other major European nations into the war.

For baseball fans, the third “shot” heard round the world refers to a walk-off home run hit by New York Giants (now San Francisco) outfielder Bobby Thomson to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers (now Los Angeles). The Giants won the pennant in 1951 as a result but lost the World Series to the New York Yankees.

Other less notable references to various events, primarily sports, use this coined phrase. In golf. the reference is used to a true rarity of a shot – a double-eagle made by Gene Sarazen in the 1935 Master’s on the 15th hole. Sarazen’s shot was holed from 235 yards on the Par 5, 15th. It was his second shot, thus a double-eagle or a score of 2.

Happy Hump Day!