May 8, 2014


Seaver's Double Duty for the White Sox (TYLER KEPNER, MAY 4, 2014, NY Times)

Thirty years ago, when the old Comiskey Park stood across the street, a different White Sox manager also ran out of relievers. But Tony La Russa had a better option, one of history's greatest starting pitchers, who was ordered to put down his crossword puzzle, get dressed and win the longest game -- by time -- in the history of Major League Baseball.

The game, between the White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers, began on May 8, 1984. After 17 innings, it was suspended under an American League curfew rule that existed at the time. It resumed the next day, before a regularly scheduled game. Harold Baines won it for the White Sox, 7-6, with a homer in the bottom of the 25th inning.

The winning pitcher was Tom Seaver, a future Hall of Famer who started the day with 274 career wins and ended it with 276. That's right: Seaver finished the first game in relief and then started the second game, working eight and a third innings to win again, 5-4. [...]

The May 8 matchup looked lopsided. The Brewers started Don Sutton, one of six future Hall of Famers, including La Russa, who ended up taking part in the game. The White Sox started Bob Fallon, a rookie who was sent to the minors after the game and never started again in the majors.

Tom Paciorek, a veteran outfielder and first baseman, thought he had the night off. Early in the game, he ordered pizza from Connie's and had it delivered to the umpires' room. As he chowed down with the other bench players, he said, a bat boy burst in. Ron Kittle had come out of the game with shin splints.

"He says, 'Hey, Wimpy, you've got to go bat for Kittle,' " Paciorek said, using his nickname. "I said, 'When is he up?' And he said he was up next. So I go sprinting through the umpires' room, through our clubhouse, grab a bat, pizza sauce all over my shirt, and I go up there against Sutton, and he punched me out on three straight pitches. I said, 'Kittle, you could have done that yourself!' "

That was in the fourth inning. By the end, Paciorek would have the most hits in the game -- five, a major league record for a player who did not start. When he came to bat to lead off the bottom of the ninth, though, the White Sox were down, 3-1 -- Milwaukee had scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by Carlton Fisk -- and facing Rollie Fingers.

Paciorek reached second on a two-base error by Brewers right fielder Charlie Moore. He scored on a two-out double by Julio Cruz, and then Fingers just missed on a two-strike pitch to Rudy Law. Jim Sundberg, the Brewers' catcher, pumped his fist, thinking the game was over. Instead, Law singled to tie the score, 3-3.

"We had two outs and a two-run lead with a Hall of Famer on the hill for us," Lachemann said, still rueful. "And we messed it up."

Those were the last runs to score on May 8. As the innings dragged on, a shoeshine man named Anthony Mayfield, who worked under the grandstand, shined 150 pairs of shoes. "I made a killing," he told The Chicago Tribune. 

Posted by at May 8, 2014 3:15 PM

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