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Longest Game

Rochester Red Wings at Pawtucket Red Sox April 16-17 & June 23, 1981. 33 innings

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33 innings.....the longest game in professional baseball history featured 2 future Hall of Famers!

  • Jul 7, 2009
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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. 

Allen, Joey and I were back at McCoy on Tuesday, June 23 for the much anticipated completion of "Baseball's Longest Game".   The eyes of the entire baseball world was on Pawtucket that night because the major league players were on strike at the time.  The stadium was packed and everyone was curious to see just how much longer this game could go on.  Jon Miller of ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball"  fame was on hand calling the game on the Red Sox radio network.   Meanwhile,  because of the strike there were literally hundreds of writers and sportscasters from all across America and around the world at McCoy that night.  Everyone wondered how much longer this game could possibly go on.  We did not have to wait long to find out as Pawtucket Red Sox first baseman Dave Coza singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 33rd giving the PawSox a 3-2 win.  I must admit that I was kind of disappointed that it was all over so quickly.

All kinds of records were broken in this game which took 8 hours and 25 minutes to play.  Among those who participated in baseball's longest game were future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs.    Looking back at his participation in baseball's longest game Cal Ripken Jr. noted:
"There were several of us who had bad weeks that game.  Think about it.  That game was like an entire series in itself.  I was so happy when I got a single in the top of the 33rd because I knew all those stats were going to count after that game ended, and my average was going to take a big hit." Ripken went 2 for 13 that night but was not around for the completion of the game in June.   He was in Baltimore playing shortstop for the Orioles.

The Pawtucket Red Sox have commemorated "Baseball's Longest Game" with an impressive permanent display of photos and artifacts at  McCoy Stadium.  This  is one of those records that will likely stand for decades and it is quite possible that it will never be broken.  For those of us who were there for any part of it this is a game that we will never ever forget. 
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July 13, 2009
Yes, what a great story.
July 07, 2009
What an amazing story!!  I am a touch jealous!  That is really cool that you got to experience that!  I just watched a crazy game last night as the Phillies DESTROYED The Reds, 22-1.  I have never watched a bigger blow out than that.  2 2 run home runs and 1 3 run home run, just in the first!  Again, this is a really nice story! 
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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The longest game in Organized Baseball history occurred in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings of the International League at Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium and lasted 33 innings. The game began on April 18 and lasted 32 innings before being stopped, with play to resume later in the season.  On June 23, the game resumed with it only taking one additional inning to settle the game as Pawtucket won it by a score of 3 - 2 in the bottom of the 33rd inning. The game included future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr. as the two third basemen.  Bob Ojeda and Marty Barrett also went on to notable careers in the major leagues.

A Pitcher's Duel

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 ...

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