April 8, 2006


PawSox plan a reunion for players in Longest Game (JOE McDONALD, 4/05/06, Providence Journal)

Pawtucket will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Longest Game, a 33-inning masterpiece/debacle that the PawSox won by beating the Rochester Red Wings, 3-2. The game began on April 18 and went into the wee hours of the morning the following day, until it was halted and eventually completed on June 23, 1981.

That historic game lives on in baseball lore, and the 2006 PawSox will celebrate that lasting legacy.

On June 23, Pawtucket will host the Columbus Clippers. Prior to the game, a reunion will be held for members of the PawSox and Rochester teams who participated in the Longest Game. Players such as Wade Boggs, Marty Barrett, Bruce Hurst and Dave Koza, and perhaps even Cal Ripken.

One Game, 33 Innings (Fred Bowen, April 18, 2003, Washington Post)

The Red Wings scored one run in the top of the seventh inning. That looked like it would be enough to win until the Red Sox scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score at 1-1. The game was going into extra innings. A lot of them.

Neither team could score again and the game stayed tied. About 1 a.m., Red Sox officials tried to stop the game, pointing out a section of the league's rule book that said no inning could start after 12:50 a.m. However, the umpires' rule book did not have that rule. The teams tried calling the league commissioner to find out the right rule, but the commissioner wasn't home. (And he wasn't one of the very few people with a cell phone in 1981.)

So the umpires told the teams to keep playing. The Red Wings scored a run in the top of the 21st inning, but the Red Sox's Wade Boggs, who became a star in the major leagues, drove in a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score again, 2-2. The innings kept piling up. The game was going so long that the official scorer had to use four different colored pens to keep the scorebook straight.

By now, the players were freezing. They were drinking hot chocolate and coffee and putting on extra clothes to try to stay warm. Some players even put broken wooden bats in a garbage barrel and lit them on fire so they could warm their hands over the flames.

Finally, the teams reached the commissioner. He said that if the game was still tied after the inning they were playing, they should stop. The Red Wings almost scored in that last inning, but Red Sox outfielder Sam Bowen (great last name, but no relation!) threw a Red Wings runner out at the plate.

So, after 32 innings and more than eight hours of baseball, the game finally stopped. But the score was still tied. The commissioner decided that the teams were too tired to finish the game the next day. (It was 4 in the morning, after all.) So the teams finished the game on June 23, 1981, the next time the Red Wings were in Pawtucket, before a packed house of 5,756 fans. The Red Sox won the longest game in one quick inning, 3-2, on a single by first baseman Dave Koza.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 8, 2006 6:34 AM

Of course Ernie had no objection to playing two. Playing in a park without lights, he knew that around sunset the second game was going to be called on account of darkness.

And note that in other sports (you know the ones) this game would have been settled after the twelfth inning or so by a homerun derby.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 8, 2006 3:25 PM