June 26, 2006

GOTTA ADMIRE THE 19:

33 Innings, 882 Pitches and One Crazy Game (IRA BERKOW, 6/24/06, NY Times)

A few years ago, Bruce Hurst recalled Friday afternoon, he was on a golf course in Scottsdale, Ariz., when he ran into Cal Ripken Jr., the likely Hall of Fame shortstop. "I'm sure he didn't remember me, but of course I knew him," said Hurst, once a standout pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

"And then we went back to that one night, that cold, crazy night when we were in the minor leagues. It seems for any of us who were involved in that game, no matter what else we did in our baseball career, we inevitably come back to that night. We still can hardly believe it."

The game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, the Class AAA affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, began in Pawtucket, R.I., on the night of April 18, 1981, went into the early morning of April 19 (when the game was halted), and concluded June 23.

It became the longest game in the history of professional baseball, lasting 33 innings, with a total of 882 pitches thrown and 156 baseballs used over 8 hours 25 minutes. It finally ended with Pawtucket scoring a run in the bottom of the 33rd.

A reunion commemorating the 25th anniversary of the game's conclusion was held Friday at a downtown hotel here, with 20 former Pawtucket players and 9 former Rochester players attending a luncheon. There was another ceremony Friday night at McCoy Stadium, the Pawtucket team's home park.

The 1981 game began on a Saturday night at McCoy Stadium with 1,740 fans in attendance. When it was stopped, after 32 innings, at 4:09 Easter morning, with the score tied at 2-2, 19 fans were left in the stands.

"No, none of the players fell asleep," Hurst said. "We were just trying to stay warm. It was the coldest I've ever been in uniform."

Marty Barrett, then the second baseman for Pawtucket, recalled that as the game went on, the temperature began to drop. "It must have been in the mid-30's, and the wind was blowing in at about 15 miles an hour — I bet the wind chill factor was 20 degrees," he said. Barrett said that Bob Ojeda, the eventual winning pitcher, found a 55-gallon trash can and lit a fire with the numerous bats that broke during the game.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 26, 2006 7:26 AM
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