"The shot heard round the world" is a phrase that refers to the opening shot of the Battle of Concord on April 19th, 1775, which began the American Revolutionary War and led to the creation of the United States of America. The phrase has subsequently also been applied to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 (which began World War I) as well as other events.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
- Emerson, "Concord Hymn"
The phrase comes from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837) and refers to the first shot of the American Revolution at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the first British soldiers fell in the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Historically, no single shot can be cited as the first shot of the battle or the war. Shots were fired earlier that day at Lexington, Massachusetts, where eight Americans were killed and a British soldier was slightly wounded, but accounts of that event are confused and contradictory. The North Bridge skirmish did see the first shots by Americans acting under orders, the first organized volley by Americans, the first British fatalities, and the first British retreat.
The towns of Lexington and Concord have debated over the point of origin for the Revolutionary War since 1824, when the Marquis de Lafayette visited the towns. He was welcomed to Lexington hearing it described as the "birthplace of American liberty", but he was then informed in Concord that the "first forcible resistance" was made there. President Ulysses S. Grant considered not attending the 1875 centennial celebrations in the area to evade the issue. In 1894, Lexington petitioned the state legislature to proclaim April 19 as "Lexington Day", to which Concord objected; the current name for the holiday is Patriots' Day.
Emerson lived in a house known as the Old Manse at the time when he was composing the "Concord Hymn", from which his grandfather and father (then a young child) had witnessed the skirmish. The house is located approximately 300 feet (91 m) from the North Bridge.
The phrase "shot heard round the world" (alternatively "shots heard round the world" or "shot heard around the world") has also become associated with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, an event considered to be one of the immediate causes of World War I. Serbian Gavrilo Princip fired two shots, the first hitting Franz Ferdinand's wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, and the second hitting the Archduke himself. The death of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, propelled Austria-Hungary and the rest of Europe into World War I.
The phrase "Shot heard round the world" continues to be a stock phrase in the 21st century, widely used to refer to extraordinary events in general. The phrase has been applied to several dramatic moments in sports history.
In baseball, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" refers to the game-winning walk-off home run by New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca to win the National League pennant on October 3, 1951. The Giants won the game 5-4 as a result of the home run, defeating their traditional rivals in the pennant playoff series, although they eventually lost the World Series to the Yankees.
In association football, the shot heard round the world refers to Paul Caligiuri's winning goal for the United States men's national soccer team in the final qualifying round for the 1990 FIFA World Cup on 19 November 1989. The US had not qualified for the World Cup since 1950. The team was in third position of the CONCACAF playoffs before their final game against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain. The US had to win to go to the finals, their opponents only needed a draw. Defensive midfielder Caliguri, the only full-professional player in the team, received the ball 40 yards out from goal, and instead of passing it to a striker, beat one defender and launched a 30-yard shot that looped into goal.