Editor’s note: The Mariners-Red Sox game eventually ended one day later, with Seattle claiming an 8-7 victory in 20 innings after the game was re-started.
If there was any record in Fenway Park history that seemed safe it had to be the one for the longest game. The Red Sox and Yankees played for 18 innings on Sept. 5, 1927, and Boston won 12-11.
Tonight, the longest game played since the park opened in 1912 will be resumed in the 20th inning between the Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. The score will be 7-7, and who knows if the game will end quickly or if the Sox will try to upstage the 22-inning job in Pawtucket by their farmhands earlier this year.
“We had our chances to win and we didn’t do it,” said Sox manager Ralph Houk. “I think we’re in a little better shape in the bullpen than they are. At least, I hope so. It was a funny game. And it’s not over, yet.”
Time was officially called at 1:16 a.m. due to an American League curfew. Chief umpire Don Denkinger said while the umpires are in control of the final series, the curfew is only waived if it is the final game. Thus play will be resumed at 7:30 p.m., with Seattle at bat.
Both teams rapped out 21 hits and made two errors. The Mariners used 26 players, including seven pitchers. The Red Sox used 20 players, including six pitchers. Neither Carl Yastrzemski nor Carney Lansford were available because of injury.
When the game ended, Bob Galasso was pitching for Seattle and John Tudor for Boston. Neither manager would say immediately who would pitch the 20th inning tonight. The game thus far has taken 5 hours and 39 minutes. It will be the longest game of the year in the American League, both in innings and elapsed time, when it is finished.
That the two teams would wind up playing two days was about the last thing the crowd of 13,355 expected after seven innings. Boston was trailing 7-3 and Mike Parrott was in command for Seattle. But Boston got a run in the eighth inning and rallied for three more in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extra innings.
Joe Rudi hit a two-run single with one out in the ninth to get Boston to within one run. Then rookie Rich Gedman singled home pinch runner Reid Nichols with the game-tying run.
Seattle jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first three innings off Sox starter Mike Torrez. The Sox got those runs back in the third and fourth innings to tie the game. But Torrez was chased in a three-run fifth inning. Bill Campbell replaced Torrez, but by the time he left, Seattle had a 7-3 lead and Tom Burgmeier took over. Boston scored once in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it close and force the Mariners to call out their bullpen ace Shane Rawley. But neither Rawley nor Dick Drago could stop the Sox in the ninth, and the game went into extra innings.
Boston had its hands full in the extra innings with right hander Larry Anderson, who retired 11 straight batters at one point before leaving after the 16th inning. Burgmeier, Luis Aponte and Chuck Rainey held the Mariners. Rainey faced the most serious threat in the 17th when Seattle had runners on first and third with one out.
Rainey, however, was saved by Dave Stapleton who turned a line drive by Bruce Bochte into an unassisted double play, and then scooped up a grounder by Lenny Randle to end the threat.
“The play was just a reaction,” said Stapleton, who started the game playing third base. “Just a reaction by a body that was mentally and physically drained. I’m very tired. I don’t know where I had the strength to make that play. This is the longest game I’ve ever played in.”
Stapleton was soon reminded that he is just at the yawning stage in this business of marathon games. Teammates Rich Gedman, Julio Valdez and Chico Walker were all starters in the 33-inning game that began in April and ended in June, with Pawtucket beating Rochester, 3-2. Luis Aponte, who pitched in relief last night, also pitched in that game and, as he recalled, got yelled at by his wife for coming in at 3 a.m. Bob Ojeda was the winning pitcher and Bruce Hurst was in the bullpen.
“It felt just the same to me,” said Aponte. “It was a close ball game with some good pitching. But to tell you the truth, the game at Pawtucket might have been a little tougher.”
Added Hurst, “Hey, this is old hat. Going 19 is nothing.”
Gedman had been removed last April for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning, and was with the Red Sox players on strike when the game was resumed. That he would get the game-tying hit to prolong this game became one of the many ironies of the night.
“I’m not tired,” said Gedman, who took over for Gary Allenson in the 10th. “I only caught nine innings, you know. If it meant staying here all night for us to win, I would have done it.”