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

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

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published April 18, 2016 and can be found here.

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

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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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Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA