The longest professional baseball game

The longest game in the history of professional baseball took place in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League.  The game lasted 33 innings and went on for a total of 8 hours and 25 minutes.  Played at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the first 32 innings of the contest were played April 18th and 19th.  The final inning of the game was played on June 23, 1981.  Pawtucket won the game, 3–2.

A pair of future Hall of Famers took part in this marathon competition.  Cal Ripken, Jr. batted 2–for–13 while playing third base for Rochester.  (The following year, Ripken would be named Rookie of the Year in the American League.)  Meanwhile, Wade Boggs played third base for Pawtucket, going 4–for–12 with a double and an RBI.

You can find some interesting numbers from the game here, and the official box score can be found here.

Quote of the day

You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.

~ Cal Ripken, Jr.

"Cal Ripken, Jr in 1996" by Joe Shlabotnik

“Cal Ripken, Jr in 1996” by Joe Shlabotnik

Cal Ripken, Jr.’s Hall of Fame speech

Baseball’s Iron Man was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.  While I feel like he spent a lot of his induction speech discussing his new endeavors with Ripken Baseball, I also feel like he made a lot of good points about the relationship between life and baseball too.

“The luckiest man on the face of this earth”

Two weeks after his retirement from baseball, the New York Yankees’ Lou Gehrig spoke during a tribute at Yankee Stadium in New York, between games of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators on July 4, 1939.  Gehrig’s retirement came after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now popularly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

The degenerative nerve disorder would ultimately take Gehrig’s life less than two years later.

AP photo

Born on June 19, 1903 in New York City, Gehrig was the only surviving son of German immigrants Christina and Heinrich.  In 1921, he began school at Columbia on a football scholarship to obtain a degree in engineering.  He was banned from intercollegiate sports during his freshman year, after being discovered playing summer professional baseball under an assumed name.  In 1922, however, he played fullback for the Columbia football team, then pitched and played first base for the Columbia Nine in 1923.  His performance as a baseball player impressed Yankees scout Paul Krichell, and Gehrig signed with the Yankees in 1923.  After a full season playing for the Hartford team, Lou Gehrig joined the Yankees for good in 1925.

Once Gehrig replaced Wally Pipp at first base, he did not miss a start for more than 13 years.  He played in 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood until Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it in 1995.  Gehrig played through broken bones, back spasms, hits in the head by pitches (helmets were not being used during his time), and multiple hand fractures that were later discovered to have “healed” while he continued to play.  Gehrig’s endurance and strength earned him the nickname “Iron Horse.”

Then, in 1938, Gehrig’s batting average fell below .300 for the first time since 1925.  At the end of the season, Gehrig confessed, “I tired mid-season. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get going again.”  At first, doctors diagnosed a gall bladder problem and put him on a bland diet.  But the diet only made him weaker.  During the Yankees 1939 spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was evident that Gehrig’s base running and power were affected.  At one point, he even collapsed on Al Lang Field.  He did not hit a single home run throughout spring training, and once the 1939 season began, he collected only four hits in the first eight games.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig pulled himself from the lineup.  As captain, he took the lineup card to the umpires, as usual, but Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren was listed at first base.  The Briggs Stadium announcer informed fans, “Ladies and gentlemen, Lou Gehrig’s consecutive streak of 2,130 games played has ended.”

After six days of testing at Mayo Clinic, doctors confirmed a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  On June 21, the New York Yankees announced Gehrig’s retirement from baseball.  After some push from the public for a recognition day in Gehrig’s honor, the Yankees proclaimed July 4, 1939 “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee Stadium.  More than 62,000 fans attended, and Gehrig’s number 4 was retired during the ceremony.  When the time came for Gehrig to speak, he delivered a speech that, to this day, continues to stir the hearts of baseball fans all over.

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.

– Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on December 7, 1939 in a special elected held by the Baseball Writers Association.

R.I.P. Tony Gwynn

Yesterday, we lost one of the game’s greatest hitters, and a huge part of my earliest introduction to baseball.  Tony Gwynn was a career San Diego Padre, a 15-time All Star, and was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 alongside Cal Ripken, Jr.  He passed away yesterday after a long battle with salivary gland cancer.

Sports Illustrated

This day in baseball: Ripken’s 300th home run

The Iron Man, Cal Ripken, Jr., hit his 300th career home run on May 24, 1994 as the Orioles defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 13-6 at County Stadium.  The three-run homer came off Teddy Higuera in the third inning, producing three of Ripken’s six RBIs for the game.

Wikimedia Commons

Baseball 101: Ground balls

Another very basic facet of baseball: the ground ball.

A ground ball is a ball that is hit by the batter that rolls or bounces along the ground.  Simple enough, right?  It may also be referred to as a “grounder.”

Ground balls are typically fielded by infielders, although some may make it to the outfield if they are hit hard and out of reach, or if an infielder mishandles the ball.  A ground ball can sometimes referred to according to the number of hops it takes before a fielder gets to it.  For example, if a ball bounces once in between being hit and a fielder grabbing it, it is a one-hopper.  Two bounces for a two-hopper.  A ground ball that takes an unexpected bounce (i.e. bounces in a manner that defies the expectations of the fielder) is said to have taken a bad hop.

Bunts typically are not considered ground balls, even though they usually roll along the ground.  Instead, they fall into a classification of their own due to the way that they are put into play (tapped with the bat rather than swung at).

Cal Ripken, Jr. chasing down a ground ball (Photo source: