80th anniversary: Vic Sorrell’s 17-inning win

Eighty years ago, Detroit pitcher Vic Sorrell had the game of his life. After some shaky moments early, he won the 1933 version of the Chicago marathon. It wasn’t a running marathon, but a pitching one—and Vic Sorrell threw a 17-inning complete game to lead the Tigers to victory.

Wait, a 17-inning effort? Yowzers—that’s pretty good. It’s rare enough nowadays to see anyone go nine innings, let alone into extra frames. It’s been more than 20 years since anyone went 11 innings in a game—Dave Stewart did it last, on Aug. 1, 1990. No one’s gone 12 innings since knuckleballer Charlie Hough threw 13 innings back in 1986.

Even in the 1970s, when men were men and so were the pitchers, no one ever topped 15 innings in an outing. Even the famous 1963 Warren Spahn-Juan Marichal 1-0 duel in 1963 was a 16-innning game.

For 17 innings, you have to go back to 1955. Vern Law threw 18 for the Pirates.

So 17 innings has been done since Vic Sorrell’s big day, but it was always rare. In fact, since 1930, just 10 times has a pitcher thrown at least 17 innings in a game—and only three times more than 17 innings. (One of those three times happened before Vic Sorrell’s never-ending performance.)

So even if you account for the fact that 1933 was a very different time from now, 17 innings was still a performance to respect.

Initially, Aug. 13, 1933 didn’t look like anything special. In fact, if anything distinguished Sorrell’s pitching in the early phases of the game, it was his inability to hold a lead. After Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, Sorrell coughed it right back, giving up a pair in the bottom of the frame.

When Detroit tied it 2-2 in the seventh, Sorrell let the Sox take a 3-2 lead right after the seventh inning stretch. When Detroit pushed a pair across the plate against Chicago starter Jake Miller in the eighth for a 4-3 Tiger advantage, Sorrell immediately surrendered two runs to Chicago in the bottom of the eighth.

Maddeningly, he’d let the Sox take the lead three times—including twice late. Admittedly, two of the five runs he’d allowed were unearned due to a pair of Tiger errors, but still, this was far from the stuff of pitching legends. By modern standards there’s no way Sorrell would pitch the bottom of the ninth—if there even would be one. Then again, by modern standards, Sorrell wouldn’t have survived the eighth. But this was one day the old ways made for some memorable baseball.

In fact, the Tigers did score a run to tie it 5-5 in the ninth off reliever (and future Hall of Famer) Ted Lyons. And this time, Sorrell held the lead. He’d already let his teammates down repeatedly and he wasn’t going to do it again. If that meant he had to wear out the durable Ted Lyons, then that’s just what he was going to do.

Inning after inning passed, but neither team could find that extra run. They had their opportunities—both teams would collect 17 hits on the day—but no one could bunch them together. And Sorrell, after wearying in the late innings of regulation, had found his second wind.

Finally, in the top of the 17th, the Tigers pushed another run across for a 6-5 lead. In the bottom of the 17th, Sorrell came out to shut down Chicago. Twice earlier in the day he came out with a newly earned one-run lead, and both times he’d surrendered two runs to give the lead back. But the third time would be the charm for Sorrell – he shut down Chicago for another goose egg on the scoreboard. And Detroit had won, 6-5.

Sorrell had allowed 17 hits, but 15 were singles, and the other two doubles. He’d walked just four batters. And when it’s mostly singles you’re giving up, you can keep the other side from scoring.

It was a hard-earned win for Vic Sorrell—and he earned it 80 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.

Day-versaries

2,000 days since the Twins sign free agent third baseman Joe Crede.

4,000 days since the Brewers trade infielder Mark Loretta to Houston.

5,000 days since major league baseball and ESPN sign a six-year deal worth $800 million.

8,000 days since George Brett lays down the only sacrifice bunt he ever has after April 1979. (8,000 days ago was 1991).

8,000 days since the Expos purchase minor league Mike Lansing from the Florida State League’s Miami squad.

8,000 days since Toronto’s Rob Ducey is knocked out cold in a plate collision with Seattle catcher Scott Bradley. Toronto wins the game 5-3 in 12 innings. The Blue Jays scored twice in the 11th and twice in the 12th for the win.

9,000 days since the Hasin Tigers purchase Cecil Fielder from the Toronto Blue Jays. He’ll learn to hit breaking pitches much better there and come back to the USA a much better power hitter.

10,000 days since Boston trades Mike Easler to the Yankees for Don Baylor.

15,000 days since Gaylord Perry is halfway there—he wins his 150th decision.

15,000 days since Steve Carlton pitches 11 innings, the longest outing of his career, and wins 3-2.

Anniversaries

1871 Fielder Jones, great fielder whose birth name really is Fielder, is born. He is also a terrific manager, most notably guiding the 1906 Hitless Wonder White Sox to the world championship.

1887 300-game winner John Clarkson hits two home runs in one game. It’s the second time in his career he’s done that.

1892 Pink Hawley makes his big league debut. Hawley is a fine pitcher who will end his career with a bad win-loss record thanks to rotten run support.

1897 After seven years in the big leagues, Clark Griffith finally pitches his first shutout. Legend has it that the star pitcher considers them bad luck.

1900 A mechanical pitching machine designed by a professor from Princeton University pitches two innings in a Memphis-Nashville minor league game. The robot fans two while allowing three hits.

1901 Kid Nichols out-duels fellow 300-game winner Christy Mathewson, 3-0 in 10 innings. They’ll face off again the next day in the second game of a doubleheader. That game ends in a 5-5 tie after 11 innings.

1902 With a teammate on third base, A’s star Harry Davis steals second in an attempt to draw the throw. When it doesn’t work, he then steals first. That does confuse the catcher enough to draw a throw, and when the first baseman throws it back to the catcher in an unsuccessful attempt to nail the lead runner, Davis scurries back to second base.

1902 Honus Wagner, for the second time in his career, steals second, third, and home in one inning.

1906 After 187 straight complete games, Cubs pitcher Jack Taylor is knocked out in the third inning.

1908 20,000 fans attend Cy Young Day in Boston, as he is given a Loving Cup and faces an All-Star lineup containing Hal Chase, Willie Keeler, Harry Davis, George Mullin, and Happy Jack Chesbro.

1911 Minor league pitcher Harry Hedgpeth pitches two complete-game shutouts for Petersburg over Richmond in the Virginia League. He wins 1-0 and 10-0.

1911 Longtime star pitcher Deacon Phillippe plays in his last game.

1913 The Cubs acquire star-to-be Hippo Vaughn from Kansas City in the American Association for Lew Richie.

1915 Art Nehf, pitcher, makes his big league debut.

1917 Sid Gordon, left fielder/first baseman, is born.

1918 A Pirates-Dodgers game is the ultimate tie. Each team has eight runs on 13 hits over 38 at-bats, commits two errors, fans five times, walks three times, and has one passed ball, one hit by pitch, and 12 assists. It’s a perfectly even stat line.

1921 Braves pitcher Mule Watson has two great complete-game wins over the Phillies, 4-3 and 8-0.

1922 Yankees infielder Everett Scott hires a car to drive him to the park for $40 when the train he is on is wrecked.

1922 Cubs batter Charlie Hollocher hits three triples against the Cardinals.

1923 Pirates star Max Carey steals second, third and home in one inning versus the Dodgers.

1924 The Red Sox have all of one assist in a 6-0 win over the White Sox behind Howard Ehmke.

1925 Earl Webb, baseball’s single-season doubles king, makes his big league debut.

1926 It’s a big controversy in Pittsburgh. The players request that GM Fred Clarke should not be permitted to sit on the bench during games, as they feel it creates uncertainty as to who is in charge, Clarke or manager Bill McKechnie. The Pirates will release Babe Adams and Carson Bigbee and put Max Carey on waivers. Clarke will never sit on the bench again, and after the season, Pittsburgh will fire McKechnie.

1930 Thomas Jefferson Davis Bridges makes his big league debut in Detroit. Tommy Bridges become a longtime star pitcher for the Tigers.

1930 Vinegar Bend Mizell, pitcher, is born.

1931 Goose Goslin hits a double, triple, and homer but misses the cycle by the single.

1931 Reds pitcher Red Lucas begins a stretch of 250 innings without being relieved. It will last 11 months. In the same game, Tony Cuccinello gets six hits for the Reds.

1932 Bill Terry hits three homers in one game. It’s the final of seven career multi-home run games.

1932 Charley Root, the all-time winningest Cub pitcher, has his worst day at the plate, 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

1932 Baseball commissioner Judge Landis clears Cubs manager Rogers Hornsby of fraudulently “borrowing” money from his Cubs players. Hornsby had plenty of gambling debts from betting horses.

1932 Hall of Famer Red Ruffing has his best Game Score: 96. His line: 10 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, and 12 K. The Yankees win 1-0, on a Ruffing home run.

1932 Dodgers pitcher Sloppy Thurston allows six homers against the Giants but gets four hits himself at the plate in an 18-9 win.

1935 Mudcat Grant, 20 game winner, is born.

1939 Jimmie Foxx reaches base for the 49th straight game, his longest such streak. He has 75 hits and 37 walks for a .498 on-base percentage in that span.

1939 For the only time in his career, Lou Boudreau steals two bases in one game.

1939 The Yankees tie an AL record for most lopsided shutout in a 21-0 win over the A’s.

1940 Joe DiMaggio ties a personal best with eight RBIs in one game.

1940 Tony Cloninger, a pitcher who once hit two grand slams in one game, is born.

1943 Luke Appling gets his 2,000th hit.

1945 Branch Rickey, Walter O’Malley and John L. Smith purchase controlling interest in the Dodgers.

1946 Hank Greenberg lays down his first sacrifice bunt in six years and 20 days. He never has another one.

1947 Willard Brown becomes the first black man to hit a home run in the AL. It’s an inside-the-park, pinch-hit homer. When he’s done, a teammate destroys Brown’s bat in the dugout while the manager sits there silently. The pitcher is Hal Newhouser, and he never allows any other pinch-hit or inside-the-park homers in his career.

1948 51,013 attendees see Satchel Paige throw a five-hit shutout against the White Sox in Comiskey Park. Another 15,000 are turned away from the stadium.

1949 Andre Thornton, Indians slugger, is born.

1950 Ralph Kiner hits his 200th home run.

1940 Bob Feller steals a base for the only time in his career.

1950 In the International League, Rochester tops Jersey City, 3-2 in 22 innings. Both pitchers go the distance, Tom Poholsky for Rochester and Andy Tomasic for Jersey City.

1951 Leo Durocher wins his 1,000th decision as manager. His record is 1,000-803.

1951 The Dodgers have Musical Depreciation Night, letting in anyone with a musical instrument for free. A total of 2,000 fans are admitted free, including one with a piano.

1953 Gus Triandos makes his big league debut. He’s a catcher most famous for the thankless task of trying to handle Hoyt Wilhelm’s knuckleball.

1954 The White Sox top the Tigers, 1-0 in 16 innings. Al Aber goes the distance (15.1 innings) in the loss for a Game Score of 101. Jack Harshman gets a complete-game shutout win for a Game Score of 109.

1957 Braves pitcher Lew Burdette homers twice in one game. He’ll do it one more time in his career.

1958 Roberto Clemente records the first of 13 multi-home run games.

1958 Richie Ashburn gets his 2,000th career hit.

1959 Ernie Banks walks four times in one game. He also has a double.

1959 Frank Robinson hits the first of eight career grand slams.

1961 It’s a rare occasion when a walk-off error scores the tying and winning runs. Baltimore beats Boston, 6-5 in 11 innings, when a misplay lets two score in the bottom of the 11th. It happens on an attempted sacrifice hit.

1961 Lew Burdette has his worst day at the plate, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, his only four-K game.

1962 In the minor leagues, shortstop Bert Campaneris takes the mound to pitch ambidextrously in relief for Daytona Beach versus Ft. Lauderdale in the Florida State League.

1963 Warren Spahn records his 2,382nd career strikeout, passing Rube Waddell for the most by a left-handed pitcher.

1963 Willie Mays plays shortstop for an inning. It’s the first of two times he plays there.

1964 CBS buys 80 percent of the Yankees, effective in November.

1964 Reds manager Fred Hutchinson takes a leave of absence, as he’s going to the hospital for treatment for the cancer that’s killing him.

1964 Jay Buhner, Mariners slugger, is born.

1966 Hank Aaron steals three bases in one game. He’ll do it again next year.

1966 Longtime Hardball Times writer Steve Treder attends his first game and sees Houston’s Dave Giusti nearly throw a perfect game against the Giants. Only a Cap Peterson single in the second inning ruins it. Houston wins, 3-0.

1966 Vernon Stouffer becomes principal owner of the Indians, buying out Gabe Paul for $8 million.

1968 Orlando Cepeda has perhaps the worst day of his career, going 0-for-4 with four whiffs. However, he does get an intentional walk.

1969 Johnny Bench hits the first of his 11 grand slams.

1969 Alex Fernandez, pitcher, is born.

1969 The Cubs lead the NL East by 8.5 games. They’ll finish the year eight games behind the Miracle Mets.

1969 Roy Face allows the last of his record 21 career extra-inning home runs.

1969 Jim Palmer no-hits the A’s, walking six and fanning eight in an 8-0 win for Baltimore.

1969 Roberto Clemente hits three homers in one game for the second time in his career.

1969 Willie Stargell gets his first RBI walk. It’s taken him nearly 900 games.

1969 Baseball commission Bowie Kuhn receives a seven-year contract for the job. Until this point, he was holding the position on a temporary basis. He’ll do a terrible job.

1970 For the fourth of five times in his career, Cesar Tovar gets the only hit for his team, ruining what would otherwise be a no-hitter. Today, it’s a leadoff bunt single in the first inning against Washington’s Dick Bosman. Tovar’s five no-hit-ruiners are tied with Eddie Milner for the most ever by one batter.

1972 Hall of Fame executive George Weiss dies at age 78.

1972 With the Tigers in a tailspin, manager Billy Martin does something different to shake things up—he picks the batting order out of a hat. Slugger Norm Cash leads off and punchless shortstop Ed Brinkman bats cleanup. And it worked! Detroit wins, 3-2, with Brinkman driving in Cash for the deciding run.

1973 The Cubs purchase Rico Carty from the Rangers.

1974 Jarrod Washburn, pitcher, is born.

1975 The A’s release 200-game winner Jim Perry.

1976 Young Indians pitcher Dennis Eckersley fans 14, his personal best. He gets stuck with the loss, though, in a complete game, 2-1 loss against Texas.

1977 Legendary third baseman Brooks Robinson appears in his last game.

1978 Baltimore’s grounds crew beats the Yankees. The Orioles are up 3-0 after six innings, but the Yankees score five in the top of the seventh. Then there’s a rain delay, and the crew intentionally moves as slowly as possible to cover the field with the tarp, making the field unusable. Since Baltimore can’t bat in the bottom of the seventh, the top of the seventh doesn’t count, either.

1979 Lou Brock gets his 3,000th hit.

1979 Second baseman Tommy Herr makes his major league debut. He’ll be a fixture on Whitey Herzog’s 1980s Cardinals teams.

1981 Andre Dawson hits the first of his seven career grand slams.

1981 Two men who will lead the NL in ERA at some point in the 1980s make their big league debuts today: Atlee Hammaker and Alejandro Pena.

1982 Gaylord Perry gets his 300th complete game.

1982 Joe Morgan plays an entire game at third base for the only time in his career. The shortstop in this game is Darrell Evans. That was some infield the Giants used that day.

1983 Baltimore releases defensive stud third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez.

1985 The Cubs release veteran shortstop Larry Bowa.

1986 Barry Larkin makes his big league debut.

1987 The Cubs retire No. 26 for Billy Williams.

1987 Mark McGwire hits his 39th home run, a record for rookies. Wally Berger and Frank Robinson jointly held the old record of 38.

1987 In a 13-inning win, the Cardinals outfield has zero putouts. It’s the longest game ever to lack any outfield putouts. Danny Cox and three relievers combine to allow seven balls in the outfield all game, six singles and a double.

1987 Expos left fielder Tim Raines comes to the plate five times and scores five runs.

1988 Dwight Evans has a personal best seven RBIs in one game. He’s 4-for-5 with a triple, two homers, and a walk.

1988 Ramon Martinez, pitcher, makes his big league debut.

1991 Tim Raines hits his 100th career home run.

1991 Paul Molitor hits the first walk-off home run of his career.

1991 Former AL Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle plays his final game.

1993 Roberto Alomar gets his 1,000th hit.

1993 Frank Thomas hits his best home run ever according to WPA: 0.576. It’s a two-run shot in the bottom of the eight while down by one.

1993 Rickey Henderson, new to Toronto, pays teammate Turner Ward $25,000 for uniform No. 24. Henderson tells reporters he’s having trouble hitting with No. 14 on his back.

1995 Will Clark hits his 200th career home run.

1995 Mickey Mantle dies of liver problems at age 63.

1995 Minnesota retires No. 14 for Kent Hrbek.

1995 Cal Ripken endures his worst day ever according to WPA: -0.510 WPA.

1996 In the minor leagues, Rick Helling throws a perfect game for Oklahoma City over Nashville.

1996 In an Expos-Astros brawl, Moises Alou tosses his batting helmet and hits Astros manager Terry Collins in the face, creating a four-inch wound.

1997 John Smoltz loses his 100th decision for a career record 125-100.

1997 Cleveland releases Julio Franco. Milwaukee signs him that same day.

1997 San Diego trades Rickey Henderson to Anaheim.

1998 Cleveland signs free agent Cecil Fielder.

1998 Harold Baines becomes the all-time RBI leader for a designated hitter when he drives in No. 824.

2002 San Diego retires No. 19 for Tony Gwynn.

2002 Warring Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday finally complete a deal to give Wilpon full ownership within 30 days.

2003 After missing three months with a groin injury, the Mets’ Mike Piazza returns with two homers and four RBIs on, appropriately enough, Italian Night at Shea Stadium.

2003 38-year-old Rafael Palmeiro, who is nearly 39 years old, hits his second triple of the week.

2004 J.T. Snow hits three homers in one game.

2004 Jeff Bagwell has maybe the worst game of his career. He’s 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.

2005 The A’s retire No. 43 for Dennis Eckersley.

2006 Minnesota’s post-Washington cumulative franchise record hits .500 (3,633-3,633). The Twins stayed over .500 in Minnesota until late 2012.

2007 Hall of Fame shortstop Phil Rizzuto dies at age 89.

2007 The Padres release David Wells.

2008 Richie Sexson plays in his last game.

2008 It’s the rise and fall of Francisley Bueno. He’s a one-game big league wonder, but his one-game career is different than others. You see, he’s ejected in it. As far as I know, he’s the only guy to be ejected in his only career game. He’s a pitcher who throws at Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs.

2008 The Astros have eight straight plate appearances without any at-bats in the sixth inning against the Giants. Here’s the sequence: walk, sacrifice fly, intentional walk, sacrifice fly (run scores), HBP, walk (run scores), HBP (run scores), HBP (run scores). Houston wins, 6-2, with all its runs coming in that inning.

2009 The International Olympic Committee announces that baseball and softball won’t be part of the next Olympics.

2010 Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey throws a complete-game one-hitter in which the hit came from opposing pitcher Cole Hamels. At that point, no Met has ever thrown a no-hitter.

2010 The Royals trade Jose Guillen to the Giants for cash.

2011 Atlanta’s Dan Uggla sees his hitting streak peak at 33 games. He hits .377/.438/.762 in that span. Prior to the streak, he was hitting .173/.241/.327 on the year.

2011 Jeff Keppinger of the Giants his a solo home run. It’s the 22nd consecutive Giants home run to happen with no one on base, a major league record.

2012 The Yankees sign pitcher Derek Lowe as a free agent.

2012 Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky dies at age 93.

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Comments

  1. Tom Dockery said...

    The second and last time that Willie Mays played shortstop was in that 23 inning game against the Mets in 1964.

  2. Jim G. said...

    Beuno catch….

    Willard Brown – I would have assumed that Larry Doby had the first AL HR by a black man. Interesting. Any idea which teammate destroyed his bat?
    That would also be his only HR in his only season. Also, pretty coincidental being a man named Brown on the Browns.

  3. Chris Jaffe said...

    Note: a savvy reader pointed out a mistake to me—Francisley Bueno has now in fact appeared in more than one game.  He pitched a bit last year, thus ending his main claim to fame.

  4. Susan Murray said...

    “1996 In an Expos-Astros brawl, Moises Alou tosses his batting helmet and hits Astros manager Terry Collins in the face, creating a four-inch wound.”
    - the first time a batting helmet was used as a weapon. Thanks for sharing such amazing facts Chris!

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