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dan shaughnessy

Recalling a baseball marathon and a win streak with Joe Morgan, and other thoughts

Pawtucket's Dave Koza singles home the winning run in the 33rd inning on April 18, 1981.
Pawtucket's Dave Koza singles home the winning run in the 33rd inning on April 18, 1981.

Picked-up pieces while begging for April 29 and the NFL Draft to finally get here so everyone can stop talking about it …

▪ April 18 is the 40th anniversary of the Rochester Red Wings vs. Pawtucket Red Sox 33-inning game, still the longest game in professional baseball history.

Walpole’s Joe Morgan managed a PawSox team that included Wade Boggs, Marty Barrett, Rich Gedman, Bruce Hurst, and Bobby Ojeda, all of whom later played big roles in the epic 1986 Red Sox-Mets World Series. Rochester featured a 20-year-old third baseman named Cal Ripken Jr., who would begin his streak of 2,632 consecutive big league games one year later.

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The game started at 8:25 Saturday night (delayed because of a problem with the McCoy Stadium lights) and was suspended at 4:07 a.m. on Easter Sunday with the score tied, 2-2. There were 19 fans left in the stands when the game was suspended, but 5,746 (plus 140 media members) filled McCoy when the game was resumed June 23 in the middle of MLB’s 50-day work stoppage of 1981.

The PawSox needed only one inning and 19 minutes to win it, 3-2, in the bottom of the 33rd when Dave Koza singled home Barrett. Boggs went 4 for 12, Ripken 2 for 13. Rochester center fielder Dallas Williams went 0 for 13. Time of game: 8 hours, 25 minutes.

Morgan was ejected in the 22nd inning and went to the clubhouse, where he shared a beer with PawSox owner Ben Mondor while the game groaned past 3 a.m. He phoned his wife, Dottie, to tell her that he was still at the park because the game was in extra extra innings.

“You’re not at the park,” Dot Morgan charged. “You guys are out drinking. I can hear Ben in the background.”

“Dot, you’ll read all about it in the papers,” said the manager.

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After the game was finally halted at 4:07 a.m., Morgan made the drive home to Walpole while the sun was coming up.

“The Irish always say that the sun dances with joy in the sky when it comes up on Easter Sunday,” Morgan recalled this past week. “Well, I can tell you the sun was not dancing in the sky when I drove home that morning. It definitely did not dance, believe me.”

Joe Morgan as Red Sox manager in 1988 — the year of "Morgan Magic."
Joe Morgan as Red Sox manager in 1988 — the year of "Morgan Magic."Bill Brett, Globe Staff

Morgan, who managed the PawSox for nine seasons, was sad to see the curtain fall on McCoy Stadium after the summer of 2019. McCoy will be dark when the Worcester Red Sox open Polar Park May 11.

“I was hoping they wouldn’t change, but I figured it was changing times, and that’s been going on since Moses died,” said Morgan, now 90. “Pawtucket was great for me — only 24 miles from my house. That was great for my family because minor league baseball was no picnic for a wife and family.”

A hockey and baseball star at Boston College, Morgan played parts of four major league seasons before joining the Sox organization as Pawtucket’s manager in 1974. He came back to the big leagues as a coach under John McNamara in 1985 and was hired as interim Red Sox manager when McNamara was fired in July of 1988.

Morgan knows a thing or two about Red Sox winning streaks. His Sox won 12 straight games and 19 out of 20 after he took over for McNamara. It was Morgan Magic.

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“How many clubs do you ever see win 12 in a row?” Morgan asked after the 2021 Sox’ streak was snapped at nine Thursday. “It’s not easy to do. You have to have a lot of breaks go your way. That’s how it was for us in 1988 and that’s what happened with these guys this year.”

The Red Sox named Morgan full-time skipper after his historic start. He knew he’d made it big when he went into a hardware store in Walpole, picked out a new hammer, and was told “no charge” by the proprietor. The Sox gave him a bonus for a job well done, and for the first time in his life, Morgan didn’t have to cut his own firewood for the upcoming winter.

“If you don’t live in Walpole, you’re just camping out,” Morgan told the national media when Tony La Russa and the Oakland A’s came to Fenway for the 1988 ALCS.

Morgan finished first twice in his first three seasons as Boston manager and had a wobbly Sox team inches from first place late in 1991, then was fired after the season to make room for Butch Hobson. Morgan’s parting message was, “These guys aren’t as good as everybody thinks they are.”

The Red Sox finished in last place under Hobson the following season.

▪ Quiz: Name the only player in big league history who played in at least 1,000 games at both shortstop and center field (answer below).

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▪ E-mail from Hall of Famer/Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer after the Sox won their ninth straight Wednesday: “That was Alex Cora rope-a-doping baseball against the O’s opening weekend. Lulled baseball to sleep with 5 runs in 3 games, then unleashed the Mighty Sox. The Red Sox Nation can get off the anxiety meds! Carry on.”

▪ The Sox list Cora as their 47th manager. Ron Roenicke was 48th. Cora does not get to be 47th and 49th.

Sox managerial stints are not like presidential terms, which hold that Grover Cleveland was America’s 22nd and 24th president (he is not to be confused with Grover Cleveland Alexander, a Hall of Fame pitcher who never managed but was played by future president Ronald Reagan in a 1952 film).

Cora is not the first man to come back to the Sox dugout after a gap of at least a year. Bill Carrigan managed the Sox from 1913-16 and came back for a second term more than a decade later (1927-29). Pinky Higgins managed from 1955-59 and came back to manage badly again from 1960-62. Rudy York was Sox manager for one game in 1959, and Cy Young managed six games for the 1907 Boston American League team.

▪ Roger Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners and walked none in a single game in April of 1986. With the stuff he had that night, Clemens in 2021 would probably strike out 24 batters.

▪ Isaiah Thomas? No, thanks.

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▪ Sorry, Julian Edelman is not a Hall of Famer. He was the toughest guy ever and his catch against the Falcons in Houston won the Super Bowl, but you have to be one of the best at your position during the years you play to earn admission to Canton.

Edelman was never an All-Pro or a Pro Bowler. Find me somebody in Cooperstown who played post-World War II and was never named to an All-Star team.

▪ CBS Boston (Channel 4), already the clubhouse leader in sucking up to the Kraft ownership group, recently became the official station of the New England Revolution.

▪ Tip of the cap to Yankees manager Aaron Boone for giving Aaron Hicks a day off Monday when Hicks needed a mental health break after the shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Hicks was drafted by the Twins and played three major league seasons with Minnesota before he was traded to the Yankees.

▪ Following research and a request from student Kristian Rhim, who will be a Globe sports department intern this summer, Springfield College announced the revocation of an honorary degree given to International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage in 1940. Brundage, who died in 1975, was president of the IOC from 1952-72 and according to Springfield president Mary-Beth Cooper, his honorary degree was revoked because of the “anti-Semitic, racist, and sexist behavior in words and actions Brundage displayed.”

▪ Ranked third nationally, 29-year-old rider Jessica Springsteen, daughter of the Boss, has a shot at making the US Olympic equestrian team for the Summer Games in Tokyo. The US team is expected to be named by the beginning of July.

▪ Tom Seaver’s statue will be dedicated at Citi Field July 22, an offday for the Mets.

▪ Bob Kraft turns 80 June 5.

▪ Quiz answer: Robin Yount.


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.