Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bottom of the 33 inning the longest baseball game in history

Some people complain about the pace of baseball, calling a nine-inning game an eternity. These people obviously had never heard of the 33-inning game in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. This week, Bill interviews author Dan Barry about his book, Bottom of the 33rd.

Click on the listen link above to hear the interview.

Bill’s Thoughts on Bottom of the 33rd

At 8:00 PM on April 18th, 1981, two triple A teams, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, settled in to play a game of baseball. It was a cold, windy night, and it would get colder.

Eight hours and thirty two innings later, each team had scored two runs, and neither team appeared capable of scoring any more.

The game was mercifully suspended. The weary players and a handful of fans made their way home for Easter.

Two months later, the longest game in the history of organized baseball was completed. The 33rd inning took eighteen minutes.

Of this game and the players and others involved, Dan Barry has made Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game.

Barry isn’t kidding about the “redemption.” In the prologue, he writes:

Why did you keep playing? Why did you stay?

Because we are bound by duty. Because we aspire to greater
things. Because we are loyal. Because in, our own secular way
we are celebrating communion, and resurrection, and possibility.

That tone notwithstanding, Bottom of the 33rd also provides some pretty funny stories: Wade Boggs napping on the field with his head on third base, for example, and the “mischievous wind” that blows a sure homerun that would have ended the game in the 27th inning back into the glove of the disappointed Rochester centerfielder.

Some of the stories of what happened years later to the players involved in that game in Pawtucket are heartening: both guys who played third base that night, the aforementioned Boggs and Cal Ripken, Jr., made it to the Hall of Fame. On the other hand, Dave Koza, who finally won the game with a base hit, never made the jump to the Majors and struggled in his life after baseball.

Dan Barry’s account bravely aspires to be more than the story of an exceptionally long ballgame, and it succeeds. And of course the great thing about Bottom of the 33rd is that you can relive the adventure of that weird game in some warm, well-lighted place.


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