Saturday, July 30, 2011

A long night's journey into day

I’m heading up to Seattle tomorrow to begin a nine-game stretch of broadcasting for the Mariners. There was a game earlier this week between the Pirates and the Braves that lasted 19 innings and lasted over six hours. That prompted this Friday question by Joe Knucks-all (yes, it’s an ode to Joe Nuxhall):

What's the longest game you've gotten to call, thus far?

Friday, September 25, 1992. The Mariners at the Texas Rangers. Sixteen innings, but first a little background:

This was the very end of the season. Both teams were already eliminated. So the game meant absolutely nothing.

The game was held in the old Arlington Stadium, a converted minor league park that was, to be charitable, a dump.

It must’ve been 100 degrees at game time and by the end -- 95.

We were doing the game on TV that night as well as radio. That meant the rotation was that I did the first half of the game on television then switched with my partner, the great Dave Niehaus and did the rest of the game alone on the radio. Did I mention sixteen innings?

Because this was the end of the year rosters were expanded. I believe we set a major league record for the number of players used in one game. The Mariners used 29, the Rangers only used 25. The Mariners employed eleven different pitchers. Between the two clubs there were 481 pitches thrown (I think 12 strikes).

We left twelve men on base. Texas left a staggering twenty. M’s second baseman, Bret Boone went 0-7.

You can’t believe what a mess my scorebook was. Completely indecipherable. Navajo Code Breakers couldn’t figure out who batted for who when.

But the incident I remember most was this: Our bullpen was down the leftfield line. Late in the game, maybe the 13th or 14th while play was in I look out and all of our relief pitchers and bullpen catchers are running out onto the field. WTF?! Seems someone discovered a big rat in the bullpen. So while members of the grounds crew removed the rodent we had a ten minute "rat delay".

We won the game 4-3. Omar Vizquel drove in the winning run and then was thrown out in a wild rundown. It was that kind of game.

And then when the game ended – 5:08 after it started -- I had to do the postgame show. That was another half hour. One of the features was the game re-cap.  I think I said something like "A bunch of guys got into the game and made outs and didn't score, and we did that for like five hours, and then someone drove in a run.  I'll have the out-of-town scores next!"

But I will say this, yes it was exhausting but also exhilarating. You get your second wind after about four hours. And the game takes on a life of its own. The adrenaline kicks in and suddenly it’s great fun.

And the way things are going this year, I’d gladly call a thirty inning game if it meant a win.

18 comments:

MikeBo said...

I vividly remember an Angels-Yankees game and the pitching showdown between the Halos' Frank Tanana and the Bombers' "Catfish" Hunter. It went 15 innings and ran til after 1 a.m. That was back in the Enberg, Drysdale, Niehaus era.
The game was scoreless until the end.The "clash of the Titans" ended when the Angels manager (mercifully, I can't remember which one right now) inexplicably pulled Frank out and sent in a relief pitcher, who immediately lost the game. The fans were outraged. Three days later when Tanana came into the studio for an interview he was still furious. Our "rat delay" was caused by a manager who, I'm convinced got tired and wanted to go home.

slgc said...

Announcing that game sounds like running a marathon (especially that second wind after four hours part).

Joe Knucks-all said...

Thanks for the answer, always love to hear those stories! Incidentally, while Chip Caray and Joe Simpson (another beloved ex-Mariner) were calling the Braves-Pirates enduro, around the 16th inning I believe, Simpson said about the Braves, they better score this inning or I have to start a new page in my scorebook. And that, as I recall, is no pleasure. Having to call only 9 innings in the Texas heat must make ya feel like you really do earn your money.

The M's did not let that 1 game 'winning streak' go to their heads so I'll make my weekly plea: when ya come, Monday, bring a bat.

Michael said...

I remember the 22-inning Dodger game in Montreal. Vin hadn't made the trip and Don Drysdale's wife, Ann Meyers, had just given birth to their daughter, so Ross Porter did the whole game alone. He sounded a bit scratchy by the end.

Another Montreal-related memory. Drysdale died there on a road trip. Next they went to Philadelphia and the Dodgers played a 19-inning game with just Vin and Ross on radio. As the 17th inning began, Vin said, "I have done everything I can to make this game end. Ross, you try." Ross did two innings and said, "The left-handed is now warmed up again," and Vin took over, and that was the last inning.

Red Barber had a great story about this. His wife and daughter were away as Brooklyn played a 20-inning game. He'd see the train leave every 15 minutes and he mentioned that he hadn't fed the cat. So each time the train left he'd say, "I wonder how my old cat is doing." Next day, one of the New York papers sent out a reporter and photographer to do a feature on Red's cat.

LouOCNY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LouOCNY said...

Any discussion of long games must include the classic 1964 Memorial Day doubleheader between the Giants and Mets at Shea. The first game was a normal 2:23, but the second game ended up going 23 excruciating innings, lasting 7 and a half hours. It still holds a few game length records to this day. One of the odder anecdotes of this belong to neither the Giant or Met announcers, but involves Bennett Cerf.

Cerf, of course, was one of the panelists on the classic show, WHAT'S MY LINE, which aired live on CBS at 10:30 pm ET. After being introduced by Arlene Francis, Cerf comes out, and exclaimed, "Boy, there some ball game going on with the Mets and Giants - their still playing, and its in the 22nd inning!" And thus, thousands of New Yorkers switched over to the Met game.

One of the more fun stories about that game involves Met favorite Ed Kranepool. Kranepool had been at the Met Triple A team in Buffalo, and played both ends of a doubleheader the day before. After that doubleheader, he got called back up to the Mets, so he jumped in his car, drove all night down the Thruway, and got to Shea around 10 am, and took a nap on the training table. He ended up playing ALL 31 innings that day, and then presumably went home to collapse!

I have a friend who was working his way through college as a vendor at Shea, and he said that they ran out of EVERYthing about the 20th inning, but the vendors still had to stay until the end of the game, so they all went to the upper deck and slept in the seats there.

Cool-spot Papa Bell said...

Vancouver Mounties vs. the Seattle Rainiers. Don't recall the year but Frank Torre was playing for the Mounties. They wore all red uniforms - looked like giant bottles of strawberry soda. Mounties scored 9 runs in the top of the first. Rainiers came back with 10 in the home half. Not the longest game but maybe the longest inning (that doesn't include the term "T-ball").

Mike Barer said...

A short salute to The Beerman, The Tubaman,Dave Niehaus, and Rick the peanut man for making Seattle a fun place to attend a sporting event.

Lan Roberts said...

Chuck Lorre quote while doing a panel discussion at Comic-con, about Big Bang directing folks towards science: "We like to say that 'Cheers' brought people to alcoholism and 'Big Bang' brings em to science."

And I agree w/Mike Barer: a moment of silence for Rick the Peanut Man Kaminski, he was a class act.

Sherri said...

July 4 1985, Mets at the Braves. Two rain delays. Extra innings. In the bottom of the 18th, with no pinch hitters left on the bench, Atlanta is forced to let pitcher Rick Camp bat despite being down a run with two outs. Camp then hits his only career home run on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game and send it to the 19th.

Camp then gave up 5 runs in the top of the 19th, but came up to bat again in the bottom of the 19th with two runs in and two runners on base with two outs. All the magic was gone this time, though as Camp made the final out of the game.

Then, since it had originally been a Fourth of July game, the Braves had a fireworks show. On the Fifth of July. At 4 in the morning.

basura said...

With some serendipity, today would have been Joe Nuxhall's 83rd birthday.

Chris said...

Here's one for friday: Sometimes I see big decisions that affect a number of following episodes being written by freelancers/non-staff writers, like a character moving in with others or taking a new job. Who takes those decisions, is it the writer him/herself or does the showrunner/execs decide and tell whoever is gonna write the episode?

Bob Claster said...

Is there really a big Marlboro billboard in centerfield of that park? How many other ballparks have big tobacco ads?

Breadbaker said...

This is the baseball-reference.com link to the game:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TEX/TEX199209250.shtml

According to a book I have, called "Baseball Records Registry," (I bought it at the Hall of Fame) the game set two records, most players used in one game (54) and most pitchers used by one team (11). The Rangers actually only used 5.

Among the players who played in the game: Lance Parrish, Dickie Thon, Brian Downing and Pete O'Brien, along with Omar (who is still active), Griffey, Buhner, Tino Martinez, Palmeiro, Canseco, Juan Gone, Pudge and Kenny Rogers. There were five intentional walks and only one double play (hit by Jr.). 18 Rangers struck out.

John said...

Ah, the old Turnpike Stadium, where it seemed like 75 percent of the seats were in the bleachers, which pretty much covered everything beyond first or third base. My ordeal story from there was sitting in bleacherworld in 100-degree/50 percent humidity weather in the mid 1970s for a Rangers-Red Sox game where Texas scored in the bottom of the first inning and that was it for the offense for the night (which given the Rangers' pre-Nolan Ryan pitching history, should have been a major event by itself, but sweating through 7 1/2 straight half-innings of zilch on the scoreboard with no place to escape the heat made me realize how much better Arlington Stadium is now that it's a parking lot).

John said...

As for extra innings, my best story is the game I didn't go to -- I had a summer job as a part-time usher at Shea Stadium in 1974, and one of the last games my friends and I considered trying to do was an early September weeknight game between the Mets and the Cards. We didn't go, Jerry Koosman gives up a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the ninth, and the game ended up going 24 innings before St. Louis won.

You had to stay to the end of the game to file for your pay if you were "on call/non-union" as we summer peons were, and we almost always were stuck ushering in the upper deck, where the least amount of tips came from. But at least they let you go downstairs in the ninth inning so you could help line the field for crowd control. Still, even with that "perk", 15 innings in the box seats still wouldn't have been fair compensation for a $13.10 paycheck, plus tips (from the broadcasting aspect, the other person who had to "go downstairs" in the ninth inning was poor Ralph Kiner, who thought he was going to be doing Kiner's Korner about 10:30 p.m. on a 3-1 Mets victory. I stayed up to watch the game, and sometime around the 20th inning the director cut to a shot of Ralph fast asleep in his chair in the studio).

Paul Duca said...

There's an article in today's Boston paper about how Frank McCourt sold off a piece of land in Boston to raise money to buy the Dodgers...and now that land is part of a multi-billion dollar development deal along the revitalized Boston waterfront.

VP81955 said...

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party, but this makes me remember that incredible Phillies season of 1993, specifically in early July. On Friday the 2nd, the Phils played a twi-nighter against San Diego at the Vet; fireworks, always a popular promotion with the Phils faithful, were scheduled to occur afterwards. Well, there were three rain delays totaling nearly six hours before or during game one, which was eventually won by the Padres. The fireworks were scrapped, and most thought game two would be, too, made up as part of a twin-bill Saturday night. That's not what happened; the Phillies decided to play the nightcap at a time when most people have had their nightcaps, with the first pitch at 1:30 a.m. No rain delays this time, but it went extra innings, and was won by the Phils in the 10th on a base hit by, of all people, Mitch Williams (off Trevor Hoffman!). It led to one of Harry Kalas' most memorable calls, as the hit was made by "Mitchie-poo."

I would have gone to the game, but I had a job interview in south Jersey the next morning, and had to get up early. My clock radio flips on a few minutes after 5 a.m., near sunrise, and what do I hear but Scott Graham doing the postgame show! As Rich Ashburn would have said, "Hard to believe, Harry, hard to believe."

But more insanity followed on that homestand. Los Angeles came in next, and the July 7 game went 20 innings. The Dodgers scored on an error in the top of the 20th, but Len Dykstra -- whose financial knowledge is certainly suspect, but was a fine player, at least that year -- hit a ground-rule double with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom half to win it.

Gee, what a memorable season, and I only hope that before I leave this earth, the Washington Nationals have a season with as much drama and thrills (with a happier ending, of course), so D.C. fans can finally experience what exciting, winning baseball is all about. (You would have to be at least in your late 70s to recall when the Senators last contended, in 1945, and in your late 80s to remember when they won a pennant, in 1933.)