Monday, July 05, 2021

Marathon Man


On July 4, 1985 the Mets beat the Braves in Atlanta 16-13 in a 19 inning game.  Since it was fireworks night, the Braves fulfilled their obligation and shot them off -- at 5 AM.  One or two of the fans had gone home. But yesterday, while celebrating the 4th I thought back to that game, which led me to recall my longest game as an announcer. 

It was Friday, September 25, 1992. The Mariners at the Texas Rangers. Only 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 (now two stadiums ago).

It must’ve been 100 degrees at game time and by the end -- 95.  (Folks in the Northwest and Canada I'm sure can picture it.)

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. 

I don't think Bret Boone would agree.


Frederic Alden said...

I am of the opinion that all baseball games mean nothing. And even when I was a casual sports fan, I thought the process, not the destination, was the entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed the games I attended, and in particular one between the Dodgers and Reds that was decided by a Johnny Bench home run. But I don't know nor care to know who won the Series that year.

scottmc said...

That was a great post. Each new detail better than the one before. With the new 'Manfred Man' rule regarding extra innings, games like those will be as unlikely as someone breaking DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak or Ripkin's consecutive games played record.

Cliff said...

Gee Ken,

Your baseball memories give me a quick pang when I recall how much I enjoyed listening to games with You and Dave and how much I miss that.

Take Care.

Dana King said...

You have hit on the primary reason I'm against the "unearned" runner rule. I think all fans have memories of going to games like this, and they're cherished. As you said, after a while, it takes on a life of its own.

10 - 15 years ago or so, The beloved Spouse and i stayed up half the night to watch the Pirates lose to the braves in 19 innings. (On a blown call at home plate, no less. I still cringe when I see Jerry meals do a game.) The game was in Atlanta, but a little girl could be heard chanting "Let's go, Bucs" all the way tio the bitter end. The beloved Spouse and i still smile at that memory.

Cheryl Marks said...

Those of us who were at home watching the game, salute you. I miss Dave Niehaus.

Michael said...

When we were growing up and it was just Vin and Jerry, one of them would take a series off occasionally. One time, Vin skipped Chicago, the wind was blowing out, the Dodgers won 18-12. A few weeks later Jerry skipped Cincinnati and a game went 19 innings and Vin said, "Jerry has gotten even with me for Chicago."

Of course the record was in Montreal, when Vin was off for the Game of the Week and Drysdale became a father and went home, and Ross Porter did all 22 innings alone. I believe that was the game where Lasorda had the mascot thrown out too.

Joyce Melton said...

I went to a late-season make-up double-header at New Comiskey Park in Chicago. The Twins were in town and both games turned lively, but the second game went into extra innings. The game barely managed to end before the local curfew of 1 a.m., I think it went fifteen innings despite two rain delays.

The White Sox were in a pennant race and when the home team won the first game, a fan down in front of me stood up and turned to face the stands. In a Chicago accent straight out of Second City, he proclaimed, "Nord' saiterss choost doan geddit!" It took me a moment to decipher that: Northsiders just don't get it.

I took it to mean that while Cubs fans attended games to see baseball played, he came to the park to see his team win. A deliciously indelible memory.

Brian said...

I fondly remember that stadium from when I used to live in Dallas. Sitting on the first base line and burning up until finally, finally the sun went down enough to cool off to 98 degrees. Except one time, an ex colleague of mine who worked for a Texas oil company (when Texas still had oil companies) invited us to his box. It had air conditioning (of course the windows were open anyway) and the waitress brought us all the food and beer we wanted. This was preceded by dinner in the clubhouse restaurant. Fun times. Who were the Rangers playing and who won? Beats me.

KB said...

Well, MLB "fixed" that with the ridiculous runner on 2nd BS. Also, they probably would have cancelled the 5am fireworks in 2021. The Washington Nationals fans that sat through a nearly 2-hour rain delay the other night got rewarded with "fireworks cancelled" news in like the 8th inning because it got too late or some flimsy excuse.

sanford said...

Extra inning games that go longer than 11 innings are quite rare. The runner on second is stupid.

stephen catron said...

The Phillies once had a game go on so long people getting off their night shift work heard it on the radio and came to the stadium. They were let in for free and watched.
I personally like the ghost runner, but it should not start until the 11th inning. Trying to watch a 14+ inning game is just dull.

David P said...

"You get your second wind after about four hours."

So, the way games are going nowadays, you catch your second wind before the seventh inning stretch...

And yes, the Expos mascot got tossed once:

ScarletNumber said...

Arlington Stadium hosted 1750 MLB games in its lifetime, but never a postseason or All-Star Game.

Its top batter was Rafael Palmeiro, who slashed .287/.365/.473 with 55 HR and 209 RBI in 1447 AB. However, that may have been chemically assisted.