Reliving professional baseball’s longest uninterrupted game (Part 1)

June 14 marks the 47th anniversary of professional baseball's longest uniterrupted game. This is what happened nearly five decades ago. Photo: Years after the longest game, Sparky Anderson (r) posed with Fred Russell (l) and Sadaharu Oh in Japan

CHARLOTTEJune 14, 2013 – On June 14, 1966, the longest, uninterrupted professional baseball game in history was played in St. Petersburg, Fla. between the Miami Marlins and the St. Petersburg Cardinals. It lasted 29 innings and took nearly seven hours to play.

The record stood for 15 years until the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings went 33 innings before the Pawsox won, 3-2 in 1981. That game, however, was not completed in a single night.


SEE RELATED: Baseball’s longest game: 29 innings


Just before game time, future Hall of Fame manager, George “Sparky” Anderson posted the line-up on the dugout wall. As a utility outfielder, I was in left field replacing Ernie “Sweetpea” Davis who was in the throes of a horrible slump.

It was a typical sultry Florida night as 740 fans braved the heat for what would become a historic evening.

For six and a half innings, the starting pitchers matched goose eggs. During the seventh inning stretch, Cardinal catcher Gary Stone raced a motorcycle around the bases before it was raffled off to a lucky fan.

St. Pete scored first in the bottom of the seventh when Terry Milani singled and went to second on a throwing error. Sonny Ruberto bunted in front of the plate, sending Milani came around third to score when Marlins catcher Charlie Sands made a wild throw to first. Ruberto advanced to third on the throw and later scored on a single by Frank Rodriquez.

That’s when the game got weird.

1966 newspaper clipping

In the top of the eighth, Charlie Sands singled. Miami manager Billy DeMars sent in a pinch hitter for Hank King who had relieved Bardes. Lloyd Fourroux went to the plate and was down 1-2 on the count before driving the next pitch over the left field fence, tying the game at 2. Though not unprecedented for a pinch-hit home run, the real oddity came in the fact that Fourroux was a pitcher.

Neither team scored again until the top of the 11th when Tim Thompson, the third Cardinals pitcher, gave up three straight singles and a run to put Miami ahead, 3-2.

It was the way the inning ended that had us shaking our heads, however. Following the front end of a double play at second, Terry Milani was pulled off the bag at first to keep the inning alive. Running from second, Carl Cmejrek rounded third and headed for home. Milani picked up the ball and charged the runner.

With faking throws, Milani accidentally let the ball slip as Cmejrek broke for the plate. The ball took one bounce and hit Cmejrek in the knee as he kicked it to home for a bang-bang out at the plate.

The Cardinals answered with a run in the bottom of the 11th and it would take 18 more innings to finish the game.

During the marathon stretch, Miami’s only threat came in the top of the 22nd when Dennis Denning hit a long fly ball to left.

Manager Billy DeMars said after the game, “I knew it was in for a home run, then this kid out there (Bob Taylor) leaps in the air, sticks his glove over the fence, and grabs the ball.”

It was probably the best catch of my professional baseball career. Certainly the most memorable. Oddly enough, it was the first putout I had made in left field all night.

As the game slogged to the 27th inning, the managers and umpires held a meeting and decided to quit if it was not over after 30 innings. While that was taking place, a Miami player ran on the field and snapped a picture of the home plate summit with the scoreboard in the background.

The 30th would never arrive, but the final inning was just as strange as the rest of the game. Miami pitcher of record, Mike Herbert, led off with a resounding double. Dennis Denning was walked intentionally, putting runners at first and second to set up a potential double play. Gary Carnegie followed with an unplayable bunt, loading the bases with no outs.

On the next pitch Fred Rico hit a sharp grounder to right that hit Carnegie in the leg as he was running to second. Dead ball. Herbert, who had scored, was sent back to third while Denning returned to second.

The next batter, Carl Cmejrek, had one mission, to get the lead run home. He lofted a long fly out to center allowing Herbert to tag, making the score, 4-3. In the process, Denning, trying for an insurance run from second, was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.

Nevertheless, the damage had been done. The Cardinals went down 1, 2, 3 in the bottom of the 29th and seven hours after it began history was made with a final score of 4-3.

For myself, to have competed in the longest uninterrupted game in professional baseball history while playing for a future Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson, is the highlight of a largely unheralded minor league career; a form of personal immortality I am able to pass along to my children and grandchildren.

There was also an element of irony for the losing Cardinals. Miami arrived home at 8:30 a.m. after a four plus hour bus ride, returning to their park at 11 to play a day/night doubleheader.

Revenge is sweet.

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Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) which offers tours and travel information for people who share his wanderlust spirit.  

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@magellantravelclub.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

 

 

 

 

 


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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