50th anniversary: Tiger Stadium’s longest gameby Chris Jaffe
June 24, 2012
Fifty years ago today, was a special day in the history of Tiger Stadium.
The old ballpark hosted many games in its day—6,879 regular season ones, 27 postseason contests, plus an All-Star game or two—but none were longer than the marathon game that took place a half-century ago today.
On June 24, 1962, the Tigers hosted the Yankees. The year before, Detroit had won 101 games, only to finish well behind the 109-Yankees, who won the World Series that year. In early 1962, however, both teams were off to shaky starts, playing around .500 ball.
Early on, it looked like it would be anything but a marathon. In the top of the first, the Yankees jumped all over veteran Detroit starting pitcher Frank Lary. (A 23-9 pitcher the year before, Lary would win just two games in ’62, a big part of the reason why the Tigers wouldn’t be competitive this year). New York batted around, scoring six runs in the first.
Detroit immediately came back, leading off its half of the first with two walks and a three-run homer. In fact, the Yankees pulled starting pitcher Bob Turley immediately after that. He recorded just one out. The Yankees would rely on their bullpen for the rest of the way.
This looked to be like an all-time great slugfest as the first inning ended with the Yankees up, 6-3.
In the second the Yankees pushed another run across the plate, so when it was Lary’s turn to bat in the bottom of the second, Detroit lifted him for a pinch hitter. Just two innings into the longest game in Tiger Stadium history, and Detroit was diving into its bullpen. The score was 7-3 heading into the third.
In the third inning, the Tigers staged another rally and scored three runs to make it 7-6. To this point, it had been a high-scoring slugfest. That was about to come to an abrupt end.
For the rest of regulation, the teams combined for just one more run. In the sixth, Rocky Colavito singled—his second hit today—and drove in Bill Bruton to even things up at 7-7. Aside from that, no one could break the deadlock.
Both sides had their chances. The Yankees loaded the bases in the fourth and again in the seventh, but both times grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. Twice Detroit got a runner on third, but couldn’t move him the final 90 feet. Thus extra innings beckoned.
Early on, it looked like Detroit was going to do it. The Tigers put runners on the corners in the bottom of the 10th, but couldn’t deliver. The 11th was far more promising. Colavito led off with a triple—his third hit of the game so far—and then the Yankees intentionally walked the next two batters to set up a force play at the plate.
However, with the bases loaded and nobody out, shortstop Chico Fernandez lined out to left, and then catcher Dick Brown bunted into a double play. Those intentional walks had paid off.
Both teams threatened to score again in the 15th frame. The Yankees did it when Tom Tresh singled, stole second base, and then advanced on a wild pitch, but he didn’t score. Detroit put two on with one out thanks to a hit batsmen and a Colavito single—his fifth hit of the game so far. But that also fizzled.
Both bullpens were relentless. For Detroit, Hank Aguirre pitched 5.1 innngs of scoreless ball while fanning eight. When he left, Terry Fox came in and nearly threw a complete game shutout in relief—eight innings out of the bullpen. For New York, Tex Clevinger recorded 19 outs without allowing a run. The Yankees later turned to a young kid named Jim Bouton, making just his 14th career appearance. He entered in the 16th with the Yanks intending him to last the rest of the game.
As the game went on longer, opportunities to score grew scarcer. In the 20th, the Tigers staged a two-out rally by putting a man on third off a pair of singles. (One single was by Colavito—his sixth hit in the game). But nothing came of it.
By the 22nd inning, Detroit was forced to call on its sixth reliever of the day, Phil Regan. This was an act of desperation, as Regan had pitched yesterday, allowing eight runs in three innings. (In fact, Regan was the starting pitcher, so Detroit’s bullpen was taxed even before this marathon began).
Regan proved to be one reliever too many. With one out he walked Roger Maris only to allow a two-run homer to Jack Reed. The Yankees now led, 9-7.
In the bottom of the frame, Bouton—now in his seventh inning of work—put down the Tigers with little difficulty. The only man to reach against him was Colavito, whose single was his seventh hit of the day.
The teams played 22 innings in exactly seven hours, but it was over. New York triumphed, 9-7, and would go on to win the pennant. Detroit had much to be proud of with its bullpen’s terrific performance and Colavito’s seven hits, but ultimately lost the longest game in the history of Tiger Stadium.
Aside from that, plenty of other events today celebrate either their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim.
1,000 days since Toronto’s Adam Lind homers three times in one game.
3,000 days since Mike Piazza enjoys the only 5-for-5 game of his career.
4,000 days since Mike Piazza cracks his 300th home run.
4,000 days since Colorado trades Chone Figgins to the Angels.
4,000 days since Seattle Mariners players Ichiro Suzuki and Kaz Sasaki announce they’re boycotting the Japanese media, who have hounded the pair all season.
6,000 days since the White Sox sign free agent Tony Phillips.
8,000 days since commissioner Fay Vincent places Yankee owner George Steinbrenner on the permanently ineligible list due to his misdeeds over Dave Winfield.
8,000 days since Jack Clark smashes his 300th home run.
20,000 days since the Indians take Hoyt Wilhelm off waivers from the Cardinals. The future Hall of Famer has many more miles left in his tank.
1882 Umpire Dick Higham is banned for life after he’s implicated in conspiracy with gamblers. He’s still the only umpire banned for life.
1897 Dick Harley of St. Louis gets six hits in a 12-innning game.
1901 Bill Phillips pitches a complete game despite allowing 19 runs on 22 hits. It was a very different time. Opposing pitcher Doc White gets four hits, including an inside the park home run, as the Phillies destroy the Reds, 19-1.
1901 Mike Donlin becomes the first player in AL history to collect six hits in a game.
1902 Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie hits the first grand slam in Indians history.
1908 Honus Wagner has a nice day, as he steals home and belts a homer. Nice combination.
1908 Clark Griffith, the only manager the New York Highlanders (now called the Yankees) have ever had since the franchise moved to New York from Baltimore in 1903, resigns. He’s upset that the front office won’t spend money on the team.
1911 Roger Bresnahan strikes out looking to end today’s Giants game. He’s upset and gets into an argument with home plate ump Bill Klem. Klem doesn’t like it, and punches Bresnahan. The league will fine Klem $50 for his punch.
1912 The Boston Braves purchase Bill James from the Northwestern League’s Seattle franchise. He’ll be one of their star pitchers in the 1914 Miracle Braves season.
1912 Washington selects Hippo Vaughn off waivers from the Yankees.
1913 Dan Griner of the Cardinals gives up 11 hits, but wins 1-0 over the Giants anyway.
1915 The Cubs top the Cardinals 14-13 on a walk-off steal of home in the bottom of the ninth by Heinie Zimmerman. The Cubs score four in the ninth to win.
1915 Future Hall of Famer George Sisler graduates from college and signs with the St. Louis Browns.
1917 Fred Toney should stick to pitching, as he’s caught stealing three times in one game on the bases.
1924 Pirates reliever Emil Yde is the hitting hero today against Chicago. He ties the game with a double in the ninth and then wins it with a triple in the 14th.
1925 Lou Gehrig will have 102 stolen bases in his career, but none more memorable than the one he gets today, his first one. He steals home on the front end of a delayed double steal with Yankee catcher Wally Schang swiping second.
1928 For the third time in eight days, Pete Alexander defeats the Reds.
1929 Hack Wilson becomes the first person to homer 100 times for the Cubs. They’re the ninth franchise with a 100-HR guy.
1931 George Watkins hits three homers in one game for the Cardinals.
1933 Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan has possibly his best game ever, going 5-for-5 while hitting for the cycle. He scores thrice and drives in five runs on the day, leading the Pirates to a 15-3 beating of the Dodgers.
1934 Babe Ruth belts his 16th and final grand slam. It’s career home run No. 697.
1936 Joe DiMaggio enjoys the first of 35 career multi-home run games. Today’s homers both come in the same inning, the fifth.
1938 Don Mincher, AL star in the 1960s, is born.
1941 Joe DiMaggio keeps his streak alive, barely. He finally gets his hit in the eighth inning to reach 36 straight games. Opposing pitcher Luke Sewell says after the game that he wouldn’t walk DiMaggio in that situation—that wouldn’t be fair.
1943 Stan Musial legs out a triple for the third straight game. He’ll do that one other time in his career.
1945 Hall of Fame skippers Joe McCarthy and Connie Mack square off against each other for the 300th time.
1946 Nine members of the Spokane Indians die when their bus plunges into a ravine. Jack Lohrke left the bus at the previous stop (he’d been ordered to a new team), earning him the nickname Lucky Lohrke.
1947 Jackie Robinson steals home for the first of 19 times in his career.
1948 Jackie Robinson belts a walk-off grand slam, the first of five walk-off homers he’ll ever get.
1949 The New York Yankees sign Oklahoma amateur Mickey Mantle for $1,000.
1949 Ted Williams hits two homers in a game in the first half of a doubleheader. The last time he swatted two homers in a game: exactly one year before. He’ll do it again tomorrow.
1950 Jackie Robinson hits his second and last career grand slam. So yes, both slams in Robinson’s career came on June 24.
1950 New York Giant Wes Westrum hits three homers in a game, nearly half of the team’s seven shots on the day. He had 11 career homers before today. Westrum also nails a triple in it.
1951 Ken Reitz, Cardinals infielder, is born.
1953 Early Wynn is halfway there. He wins No. 150 for a career record of 150-132. He’ll be 150-112 for the rest of his career.
1953 17-year-old Joey Jay signs with the Braves. He becomes the first Little Leaguer to go pro.
1955 Harmon Killebrew gets his first home run.
1955 Sandy Koufax makes his major league debut.
1956 Ed Bailey of the Reds hits three homers in one game.
1957 Relief pitcher Doug Jones is born.
1958 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent Ron Fairly.
1960 Ed Roebuck becomes the last Dodgers reliever to last nine innings in one outing.
1962 In the first inning, Jim Perry balks. It’s the third one of his career, but despite pitching 2,563 more innings, he’ll never get No. 4.
1963 The Washington Senators purchase Don Zimmer from the Dodgers.
1964 The Twins sign amateur free agent Rod Carew.
1964 University of Wisconsin star Rick Reichardt gets a record bonus of $200,000 to sign with the Angels.
1965 For the last time in his career, Juan Marichal walks the first batter of the game. He’ll start 294 more, but never do it again.
1965 Willie Stargell hits three home runs in one game. He hit two more on June 22, too.
1967 Mickey Mantle hits the last of his 12 career regular season walk-off home runs. That's the record, which Mantle shares with several others—but Mantle is the only one of them to also have a postseason walk-off home run.
1968 Tiger starter Jim Northrup smashes two grand slams in one game.
1969 White Sox third baseman Bill Melton hits three home runs in one game.
1969 Dick Allen is fined $2,500 and suspended indefinitely for skipping a doubleheader. He was caught in traffic after going to a New Jersey horse race.
1969 White Sox reliever Wilbur Wood picks up two wins in a doubleheader versus the Seattle Pilots.
1970 Bobby Murcer has the day of his life, hitting four consecutive home runs in one doubleheader. Three of the homers come in one game.
In that same doubleheader, Yankees pitcher Steve Hamilton fans Tony Horton on the “folly floater” circus pitch. An embarrassed Horton crawls on his hands and knees into the dugout. The fans cheer, thinking he’s putting on an act. But he isn’t—he’s heading for a nervous breakdown.
1970 It’s the last game at Cincinnati’s old Crosley Field. Lee May and Johnny Bench hit back-to-back home runs off Juan Marichal in the eighth inning for a 5-4 Reds win over the Giants.
1970 Ken Singleton makes his big league debut.
1971 Tom Seaver helps his own cause as his eighth inning homer is the difference in New York’s 2-1 win over Montreal.
1972 Bernice Gera umpires her first game in the New York-Pennsylvania League. She resigns in tears after the first game of a doubleheader. She ejected one player and said the attitude of the other umpires was a key factor.
1972 Dick Allen plays third base for the final time.
1973 Milt Pappas strikes out for the 500th time in his career. He’s the fourth pitcher to ever strike out that many times at the plate, joining Pud Galvin, Lefty Grove and Bob Feller. To date, there hasn’t been a fifth member of the club.
1974 Young Royals stud pitcher Steve Busby retired the last 24 batters he faced last time out, and today gets the first nine for an AL record 33 consecutive hitters retired.
1975 Jerry Koosman wins his 100th career decision for a 100-84 record.
1975 Sudden Sam McDowell plays in his final game.
1976 Rowland Office’s hitting streak ends at 29 games.
1977 Bob Watson hits for the cycle.
1977 D’oh! White Sox outfielder Ralph Garr swats a ball over the fence, but ends up with a single. Teammate Jim Essian is on the bases and thought the ball might get caught, and so held to first, and Garr didn’t notice him and passed him.
1978 Luis Tiant wins his 11th straight decision, his best streak. It’s nearly the end of the line for him: He’ll be 30-32 for the rest of his career.
1979 Rickey Henderson makes his big league debut.
1983 Don Sutton records his 3,000th career strikeout. It comes during his brief tenure as a Brewer.
1984 Jack Morris, winningest pitcher of the 1980s, records his 100th career victory. His record: 100-67.
1984 Joe Morgan breaks Rogers Hornsby’s old record for most homers by a second baseman with his 265th such shot today.
1986 All things must end. After he spent nearly 15 years as the team’s ace pitcher, the Phillies release Steve Carlton.
1986 Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes is born.
1988 The Mets retire Tom Seaver’s number.
1989 The Rangers allow just six hits to the Indians—but all are home runs. Charlie Hough allows the first five, and reliever Kenny Rogers the last one. Cleveland triumphs, 7-3.
1989 Joe Carter hits three homers in a game for the third time in his career.
1989 Vince Coleman breaks Davey Lopes’ old record for most consecutive steals without getting caught. Coleman gets No. 39 today, and then gets No. 40 for good measure.
1990 Starting pitcher Bob Knepper appears in his last game.
1991 Frank Thomas hits the first of 11 career grand slam.
1991 At 39 years, eight months, and 23 days, Dave Winfield becomes the oldest person to get five hits in a game. He does it while hitting for the cycle. Not bad.
1993 Major League Baseball permanently bans Steve Howe for his drug problems.
1993 Carlton Fisk breaks Bob Boone’s career record for most games caught. (He actually broke the mark three games ago, but an error in Boone’s 1981 records hasn’t yet been fixed.)
1993 For the second day in a row, Giants infielder Robby Thompson hits two homers in one game. He never had a multi-home run game before in his life, not even in Little League.
1993 Florida trades Trevor Hoffman and two others to San Diego for Gary Sheffield and one other player.
1994 Jeff Bagwell smashes three homers in one game, including two in one inning. He’s 4-for-5 with six RBIs on the day.
1994 Philadelphia signs free agent Fernando Valenzuela.
1996 Chili Davis gets his 2,000th hit.
1996 Jason Giambi plays his last full game at third base.
1997 Randy Johnson fans 19, but gets the loss anyway, as he allows four runs on 11 hits in his nine innings of work.
1998 Jeff Bagwell gets his 200th home run.
1998 Alex Rodriguez steals three bases in one game. He’ll do it again 11 years later (!).
1998 Adrian Beltre makes his big league debut.
2000 Andruw Joness hits his 100th home run.
2000 Barry Larkin enjoys the only five-hit day of his career. He’s 5-for-5 with two home runs.
2000 Bobby Higginson hits three homers in one game. It’s the second time he’s done that.
2001 Randy Johnson loses his 100th decision, for a career record of 188-100.
2002 John Lackey makes his big league debut.
2003 Brad Wilkerson hits for the cycle.
2004 Edgar Martinez walks five times in one game, a personal best. He’s also 2-for-4 with a homer as the Mariners lose 9-7 in 18 innings. The game ends on a walk-off homer by Alfonso Soriano off Jamie Moyer. This is Moyer’s only relief appearance from 1997-2008.
2004 The Astros, A’s and Royals make a three-way trade. Oakland gets reliever Octavio Dotel. Kansas City lands infielder Mark Teahen. The big prize goes to Houston: outfielder Carlos Beltran.
2005 The Mets become the first team to hit three sacrifice flies in one inning. Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams drops one of the sacrifices, which allows them to get three in all.
2006 Tony Womack appears in his last game.
2007 Veteran manager Bruce Bochy fills out his 2,000th lineup card. His record is 983-1,017 so far.
2007 Ken Griffey Jr. enjoys the last of his 55 career multi-home run games.
2007 Roger Clemens makes his first regular season relief appearance in 22 years and 341 days, a record. The old record was 15 years and 343 days by Steve Carlton.
2011 The White Sox keep coming back against the Nationals, but lose anyway, 9-5 in 14 innings. The Sox tied it in the bottom of the ninth, 10th and 12th innings. The scored three in the ninth when down to their last strike and once in each of the other two frames.
2011 The Twins announce that Justin Morneau will miss six weeks due to neck surgery.
2011 News breaks that Davey Johnson will be named the new manager of the Washington Nationals.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.