It was Saturday, April 16, 1981. During the week I had promised to take two kids from my neighborhood to the Pawtucket Red Sox baseball game scheduled for that night. As I recall it was a cold and blustery evening but these two were really big baseball fans and had their heart set on going to the ballpark that night. Allen, Joey and I were among the 1,740 hardy souls who braved the elements that evening to watch the Pawtucket Red Sox take on the Rochester Red Wings. And as is so often the case in the world of sports no one in attendance that evening had any idea that they were about to witness a piece of baseball history.
To be perfectly honest with you most of what we saw while we were there that night was really kind of ho hum. This game was a pitcher's duel and most of the fans were clearly more interested in keeping warm than in what was transpiring on the field. Hot chocolate was easily the most popular item at the concession stands. Through six innings the game was scoreless and the kids were cold and restless so we decided to head home. There would be other games on warmer nights.
The following day was Easter Sunday. I was up bright and early and called a buddy of mine who was doing a Sunday morning show on a local radio station. He asked if I had heard what happened at McCoy Stadium. He went on to explain that the game we had been at was suspended at 4:00 A.M. with the score tied at 2-2. Incredibly, these two teams had played 32 innings before the umpires finally suspended play! It was already the longest game in the history of professional baseball! When play was suspended there were just 19 people left in the stands. The plan was to finish the game prior to the regularly scheduled game later that afternoon. I blew off Easter dinner with the family and returned to McCoy Stadium. When I arrived at the stadium I learned that there had been a change of plans. The regular game would go on as scheduled but the completion of the suspended game would not take place until Rochester returned to McCoy Stadium on June 23. While I was there I purchased my tickets for that night.
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The game started late on a cold and windy Saturday, after the game's first pitch was delayed for thirty minutes as a bank of lights needed to be fixed. The first six innings were a pitchers duel as starters Larry Jones of the Red Wings and Danny Parks of the Red Sox pitched shutouts. In the top of the seventh, Rochester's Chris Bourjos singled home Mark Corey, but then Luis Aponte came in to relieve Parks and shut down the Red Wings. In the bottom of the ninth the score was still 1 - 0 visitors. After a Chico Walker double off the center field wall, a Larry Jones wild pitch, and a Russ Laribee sacrifice fly, the tying run scored and the game went to extra innings.
The game would remain knotted for 11 innings, due to the lights-out performances by both bullpens. Aponte would strike out 9 ...