Baseball's longest game: 29 innings

Baseball has always been a sport of statistics, but after a 29-inning game there were more interesting numbers than usual. Photo: 1966 St. Petersburg Cardinals Photo: Paulsen

CHARLOTTEJune 15, 2013 — No sport loves statistics more than baseball. When the Miami Marlins outlasted the St. Petersburg Cardinals in 29 innings in 1966, it was a statistical gold mine filled with interesting oddities.

The 29-inning battle was surpassed in 1981 by a 33-inning game. That contest was completed in two nights, however, leaving the 1966 marathon as the longest uninterrupted professional baseball game in history.


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


It was the usual steamy June night in 1966 in St. Petersburg, Fla. when the typically sparse crowd of 740 fans filed through the turnstiles.

The Cardinals had already made news earlier that year with a 22-game winning streak that vaulted them from last place to first. They stayed there one night. The loss that ended the streak that dropped St. Pete back to second and they never regained the lead during the first half of the season.

When Cardinal manager Sparky Anderson posted the line-up on the dugout wall, slugging left fielder, Ernie “Sweetpea” Davis, was not pleased to see my name on the card instead of his.

“Sweets” was in the throes of a severe slump, so Anderson was giving him the night off. Since opening day, Davis had been courting a young woman and this night was supposed to be the culmination of his efforts. Now his date wouldn’t even get a chance to see him play.

The game was scoreless for six and a half innings before St. Petersburg plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

After pinch-hitter Lloyd Fourroux tied the game with a homer to deep left field in the top of the eighth, he showered and went to watch the rest of the game at 9:30. En route to his seat, Fourroux grabbed a hot dog. Five hours and three more trips to the concession stand later, the game mercifully came to an end. Total hot dog bill for the night, $4.

Soon after, Davis suffered another major blow to his ego. Sent to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 11th, Sweetpea quickly struck out on four pitches.

The temporary upside was that Davis could now join his date since he was no longer eligible to play. The blessing only lasted until the 12th inning, however. Running short of players Anderson called

Davis back into uniform to suffer the indignity of warming up relief pitchers for the rest of the night. The date left and Sweetpea never saw her again.

After 11 o’clock, free coffee was served to the roughly 200 fans that remained. One man went to his bowling league and came back when it was over. At 1 a.m., after the bars closed, several fans saw the lights were still on and returned for more baseball.

Hidden among the numerous innings were several outstanding performances. Except for a single walk by the Cardinals pitcher from the 14th through the 21st, Jim Williamson pitched eight shutout innings without giving up a hit. 

For Miami, Paul Gilliford came on in relief in the 15th and pitched 11 innings through the 25th. Not bad for someone who pitched eight innings the night before.

Marlins catcher, Charlie Sands, was behind the plate all 29-innings, losing 15 pounds in the process.

Not only did Michael Hebert score the winning run in the 29th, he was also the winning pitcher. When Miami arrived home at 8:30 a.m., Hebert was sent down to the rookie league.

The game featured 203 official at bats with 44 hits between the teams, of which only six went for extra bases. There were 41 strikeouts among 11 pitchers and only 12 walks.

Two players, Lloyd Fourroux and Richard Hickerson, had both played in the previous longest game in 1965 in Elmira, N.Y., which went 27 innings.

Of the participants on both rosters, eight players made it to the major leagues. Charlie Sands had the longest career as a player, while Sparky Anderson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000 for his managerial career with Cincinnati and Detroit

Cardinals center fielder Archie Wade went on to get his doctorate in physical education and Dennis Denning of Miami became one of the most successful Division III college baseball coaches in history.

For me, I entered the game as the second leading hitter in the league. Though hardly illustrious, I held the record for 15 years as having 13 official at bats, but more than any other player in history, not a dubious record either. On the downside, I had only one hit, dropping my average from .368 to .250.

Later, in 1981, four players batted 14 times and Cal Ripken made 13 plate appearances.

Though the 29-inning game is now the second longest in history, it remains the longest uninterrupted game ever played. And while my record no longer stands, only six players in all of baseball have ever batted 13 or more times in a single game.

I still savor my brief 15-year stay in Cooperstown. Today, I relish the joy of being in the Hall of Fame, even if the only way I can do it is to buy a ticket.

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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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