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The Longest Game

In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league game of little importance. But over the course of 33 innings – 8 hours and 25 minutes – the game made history. It was the longest professional baseball game ever played.

The game started at 8pm on April 18th at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium, the day before Easter. The players were largely young guys with big dreams of making it to the major leagues, playing for a sparse crowd of 1,800. Two amateur radio announcers were tasked with sharing the game’s developments.

Pawtucket Red Sox #23 swings. Credit Worcester Red Sox.

At the end of 9 innings, the game was tied 1-1. However, in baseball, there are no ties. So, the game continued through Easter morning. At the end of 22 innings, the game was once again tied 2-2. By the bottom of the 32nd inning, the audience was down to a mere 19 shivering spectators, the Red Wings had cycled through 7 pitchers (Pawsox cycled 4), and the game was still stuck in an inescapable tie.

The umpire finally suspended play at 4am on Easter morning. The game would continue play two months later, on June 23rd. However, by this time, the deadlock had earned the game celebrity. McCoy Stadium attracted a sold-out crowd of spectators. Scores of reporters flocked to the stadium, eager to share which team would put the standoff to rest.

For many, this game represents everything  they love – or hate – about baseball. That without a clock, America’s pastime could go  on forever.  

This is an excerpt of a story in collaboration with ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcast.






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