By DAVID MILLER News Sports Writer
Last Friday night the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox played an 18-inning game as the third game of this year’s World Series.
At my advanced age I don’t do well with late night television viewing. The decision was made at our house to turn off the TV at the end of the ninth inning when the score was tied 1-1. After all it was past 10:30. Conceding that we were probably going to miss some real excitement, we turned out the lights.
When nature made its call later in the night (or early Saturday morning) I turned on the television in an attempt to learn how the game had finished. The answer was that it hadn’t finished. The two teams were still competing and it was the 17th inning. “Wow,” was my initial thought. “I’m glad we didn’t try to watch any later than 10:30. We would really be tired in the morning.”
It was only Saturday morning during breakfast that I learned the game had been decided in the 18th inning when the Dodgers got a walk-off home run. From The Associated Press report not many of the fans in Dodger Stadium had left the facility. Hey, regardless of how old I am, had I spent $1,000 per ticket to attend, I would be a little reluctant to leave myself.
And while it was 2:30 a.m. here, it was only (ONLY) 12:30 out in Los Angeles. Not so terribly late, I guess.
The game took 7 hours and 30 minutes to play and is one of the longest, if not the longest, World Series game in history. The Red Sox and Dodgers players ought to get double time for their efforts since it was actually the equivalent of two nine-inning contests. On second thought, forget that notion. The players are paid very well regardless of how many hours they’ve punched the clock.
As usual, the length of Friday’s game prompted me to ask some questions. I know that there have been longer games. But how many?
The trusty internet provided me with some answers.
The longest game in innings was played May 1, 1920 between the Brooklyn Robins and the Boston Braves. It lasted 26 innings. Who are the Robins you might ask? They were the new name some sportswriter had attached to the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers only to see it stick.The Robin part came from Wilbert Robinson, the Brooklyn manager. The sports writer apparently thought the name Trolley Dodgers was a little on the ridiculous side and started writing about the team as the Robins. The fans apparently loved the suggested name and that is what the team was called for a few years before the switch was made back to plain old Dodgers.
The May 1, 1920 game could have gone on longer, but it was stopped after 26 innings due to darkness. It was officially called a 1-1 tie and was not continued at a later date.
Brooklyn scored its run in the fifth inning and Boston tied it in the sixth. The next 20 innings were scoreless.
The New York Times wrote this tongue-in-cheek explanation of why the game was called after 26 innings:
“Umpire Barry McCormick remembered that he had an appointment pretty soon with a succulent beefsteak. He wondered if it wasn’t getting dark. He held out one hand as a test and decided that in the gloaming it resembled a Virginia ham. He knew it wasn’t a Virginia ham and became convinced that it was too dark to play ball. Thereupon, he called the game, to the satisfaction of himself and (fellow umpire Bob Hart) and the chagrin of everybody else concerned.”
The amazing thing about this game was that it took only three hours and 50 minutes to play. Something else was that was amazing— Brooklyn’s Leon Cadore and Boston’s Joe Oeschger pitched all 26 innings.
Two games in MLB history covered 25 innings.
One was the May 8, 1984 game between the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers. The other was the Sept. 11, 1974 game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets.
The White Sox-Brewers game took eight hours and two minutes to play making it the longest game in history in terms of time. It actually was played over two days. There was a rule in the American League in those years that a new inning could not start after 1 a.m. So at the end of 20 innings the game was halted and scheduled to be finished the following day. Harold Baines hit a walk-off home run in the 25th to give Chicago a 7-6 victory over the Brewers.
The St. Louis-New York Mets game lasted seven hours and four minutes from start to finish. The game was decided at3:13 a.m. and has the distinction of being the longest game played (by innings only) to be played continuously where a winner was decided. The Mets had a 3-1 lead going into the ninth inning, but St. Louis’ Ken Reitz hit a two-run homer in the ninth to tie the score at 3-3. There were no more runs until the 25th inning when speedy Bake McBride of St. Louis got on base by beating out an infield hit and then scored from first on a wild pickoff throw by Mets’ pitcher Hank Webb.
According to accounts of the game, Mets manager Yogi Berra got thrown out of the game in the 20th inning (about 1:30 a.m.). Knowing Yogi’s reputation, it might have been an intentional move on his part. After all 1:30 a.m. is pretty late for some of us folks. Some other notes: there were 180 baseballs used in the game and 50 players saw action.
Three games lasted 24 innings. They include the April 15 game between the Houston Astros and the New York Mets; the July 21, 1945 game between the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics and the Sept. 1, 1906 game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Americans.
The Mets-Astros game was scoreless until the bottom of the 24th making it the longest stretch of scorelessness in one game.
Tom Seaver of the Mets and Don Wilson of the Astros were locked up in a pitching duel that lasted until Wilson left after the ninth having given up only five hits. Seaver left after the 10th and he had allowed only two hits.
The Astros scoreboard informed fans that they were watching the longest night game in history and one scoreboard note read in the 20th inning. “We hope that you are enjoying this game as much as you did the first two.”
The game ended when a bases-loaded-ground ball hit by Houston’s Bob Aspromonte skidded through the legs of New York shortstop Al Weis’ legs. Instead of an inning-ending double play as it first appeared it might be, it turned out to be a walk-off ground ball single giving Houston a 1-0 win.
The Detroit-Philadelphia game ended in a 1-1 tie. It took only four hours and 48 minutes and each team used only two pitchers.
Les Mueller pitched the first 19 and two-thirds innings for the Tigers and allowed only one unearned run. Connie Mack, whowas 82 at the time, was in his 45th year of managing the Philadelphia team. He pulled the A’s starter, Russ Christopher, in the 13th inning and used Joe Berry to pitch the final 11 innings. This game was also called due to darkness and was not scheduled to be replayed.
Mack was also the A’s manager in the 1906 game that went 24 innings. The score was tied 1-1 at the end of the ninth inning and there was no more scoring until the A’s broke the game open in the 24th with three runs. Osee Schrecongost hit an RBI single and RBI triples by Socks Seybold and Danny Murphy brought two more runs home. As darkness started to fall, Philadelphia closed out the win. Jack Coombs of the Athletics and Joe Harris for Boston pitched the entire game for their teams.
Two games went 23 innings— the June 27, 1939 game: Brooklyn Dodgers 2, Boston Bees 2 and the May 31, 1964 game: San Francisco Giants 8, New York Mets 6.
First note about the 1939 game: the Boston Braves went through a five-year stretch when they were known as the Bees. I couldn’t find a reason. But the name of Braves Field was changed to National League Park in this stretch of time, but was popularly referred to as the “Beehive.” In the 22-inning game the score was 2-2 after nine innings and continued at that level until it started getting dark.
Like other games we’ve discussed here, it was called because of darkness and not scheduled to resume.
The 1964 game between the Giants and Mets was the second game of a doubleheader. Just think, those who bought tickets for the two games got to see 32 innings of baseball.
In the top of the 23rd inning of the nightcap Del Crandall ripped an RBI double to right field, and Jesus Alou followed with a run-scoring infield hit. The win went to a young Gaylord Perry, who pitched 10 scoreless innings in relief with nine strikeouts. In his book “Me and the Spitter,” the Hall of Famer would write that this was the game where “they saw Gaylord Perry throw a spitter under pressure for the first, but hardly the last, time in his career.”
Nine games in MLB history went 22 innings.
All this simply tells us that Friday’s World Series game was just a piker compared to all these other long, long contests.