JWG (jwg) wrote,

Bottom of the 33rd

I just finished reading Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry. This is the story of the world's longest baseball game. It was a Minor League game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings in Pawtucket, RI and it took ~8 1/2 hours to play the 33 innings. For non-baseball cognoscenti or others a normal baseball game is 9 innings and takes between 2 and 3 hours to play.

The game started at 8pm (delay because of lighting problem) and was suspended at a little after 4am on Easter Sunday of 1981at the end of the 32nd inning. There was a supposed to be a curfew that would have suspended it earlier but it was missing from the umpire's manual. There were fewer than 19 fans in the ballpark at 4am. It was resumed on June 23. That date was during a major league baseball strike and as a result the ballpark was full of fans and there was a lot of press there to see the game. In the bottom of the 33rd Dave Koza hit a single with the bases loaded to win the game.

It was a fun book to read depicting drama and nuances of the game and the people in it. Barry does a nice job describing many aspects of baseball such as the frustrations of being a minor league player and never making it to the Major Leagues. Dave Koza, the hero of the game, was one such person. Minor League players don't make much money and most never make the big time - often spending a few years and frequently ending up injured. They sometimes give up college scholarships to play baseball so it isn't really a good life choice for many people. More than 1,500 get drafted every year; there are just 600 players on Major League rosters and many of them stay for a number of years so there just aren't that many openings.

The recently deceased (2010) owner of the PawSox, Ben Mondor, is portrayed as being a really great person who built up the team and the ballpark from a complete derelict to a healthy enterprise. We've been to a couple of games there.

A bunch of years ago we were at Fenway Park for a Tigers RedSox game that ended after 6 hours in the 19th inning. Our almost an hour walk home since the T had stopped running was a lot better than it would have been had the RedSox lost.

We also were at Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS which went only 14 innings but took 5:49 - Yankee RedSox games are always very long. We got to take the T home since that game started at 5.
Tags: baseball, red sox, sports
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