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35 Years Ago Today, Rochester Plays Longest Pro Baseball Game Ever

April 18th, 2016

Dave Koza ending baseball's longest game with a bases-loaded single in the 33rd inning of a game that began on April 18 and ended on June 23, 1981. [IMAGE: Pawtucket Red Sox]
By Mike Governale

Here’s a neat bit of Rochester sports history, even if we are forever on the losing end. 35 years ago this evening, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings would begin the longest professional baseball game ever played to date; 33 innings spanning three calendar days…

Marty Barrett scores the winning run for Pawtucket in the 33rd inning on June 23, 1981. He is greeted by Wade Boggs. [IMAGE: Associated Press]
1,740 fans were in attendance at McCoy Stadium when the game external link began at 8:25 p.m. on April 18, 1981. After the first 32 innings of play, on day #2 there were just 19 fans left in the park.

As it turned out, the Triple-A International League DID have a curfew rule which should have suspended the game at 12:50 a.m. However, the rule book that home plate umpire Dennis Cregg had did not contain that section (whoops). So, after Pawtucket tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, they kept on playing – and playing, and playing, and playing, and playing, etc.

Ticket to the longest baseball game in history. [IMAGE: Huggins and Scott Auctions]Twenty-five future major leaguers played in the game including Wade Boggs on the Pawtucket side, and Cal Ripken, Jr. for Rochester.

After Rochester scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 21st inning, Wade Boggs tied it up again in the bottom half. The Pawtucket players could be heard groaning at the thought of having to continue. Boggs later said, “I didn’t know if the guys on the team wanted to hug me or slug me.”

The weather was so cold on the morning of April 19 that the players burned broken bats and the stadium’s wooden benches to keep warm. By 4 a.m. the players were “delirious” from exhaustion and the clubhouses ran out of food.

The president of the league, Harold Cooper, was finally reached on the phone by Pawtucket public relations manager Mike Tamburro sometime after 3:00 a.m.; the horrified Cooper ordered that play stop at the end of the current inning.

Finally at 4:07 a.m. on Easter morning, the game was stopped at the end of the 32 inning, more than eight hours after it began.

It took just one inning and 18 minutes to finish the game on June 23, with Dave Koza driving in the winning run in the bottom of the 33rd.

FUN FACT: To add insult to injury, Rochester set a record in this game for the most batting strikeouts (34) by one team in one game.

For those still waiting for redemption, the Wings will face Pawtucket again tonight, 6:35 at Frontier Field.

• • •

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 8:02 am and is filed under Rochester History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “35 Years Ago Today, Rochester Plays Longest Pro Baseball Game Ever”

  1. Oh oh! Other Rochester sporting history. I didn’t realize this was going on: https://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=55084 and sadly the exhibit closes tomorrow. The championship trophy will be on display tomorrow afternoon as well.

  2. Wow. 65 years ago today. I guess we’ll have to wait 10 years and do the 75th anniversary story.


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