Baseball's longest game, 30 years later
PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Thirty years ago tonight, baseball history was made in Pawtucket, R.I., in front of a crowd of almost nobody.
Bob Brex recalls being "the only fan on the first base side, at the end of the game."
By comparison, the third base side was packed, according to Gary Levin. "There were about 5 to 8 actual fans here."
Of course, it didn't start out that way. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports earlier that evening, 1,740 people had shown up to watch a minor league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. Most of the fans, we can only assume, had every intention of staying until the end of the game.
But several events conspired against the fans. The first was the weather, as it was cold and windy that night. And yet, it wasn't the cold that drove away the bulk of them - it was the clock. The game started just after 8 p.m. and continued until just before sunrise. It was the longest game in baseball history. They played 32 innings that night, spent 8 hours in the frigid cold, and still nobody won.
Around 4 a.m. the league president ordered the teams to finish it another day - which they did - in just one inning. Pawtucket finally took it in the 33rd inning by a score of 3 to 2.
Today, folks in Pawtucket continue to celebrate every 5th anniversary of the game. The tradition is not only meant to relive the memories, but, according to then-equipment manager Michael Kinch, to be re-inspired by them as well.
"I think I got a good life lesson right there," Kinch says. Back then his nickname was "Hood," which he got for stealing hubcaps. He says he was never a bad kid, but seeing those guys fight so hard, for so long in such cold, definitely made him a better adult.
"I found out what a professional was after that game and I carry it through in my professional life." says Kinch, who's now a deputy police chief. His words help explain why people in Pawtucket still cling to that game all these years year later. But it still doesn't explain why anyone, who's not getting paid, would spend 8 hours at a meaningless minor league baseball game.
Both Brex and Kinch say they'd never leave a sporting event early - for fear of missing a comeback.
So let that be a warning to parents you might find your children frozen to death in their seats.
New York Times columnist Dan Barry covers all the bases of the minor league baseball game that lasted more than eight hours in his new book, "Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game."
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