Baseball's Longest Game

Baseball's longest game, 30 years later

By Steve Hartman .
CBS Video

Reliving baseball's longest game

Thirty years ago, baseball history was made in Rhode Island in front of a crowd of almost nobody when the Pawtucket Red Sox took on the Rochester Red Wings in a game that lasted 33 innings. Steve Hartman reports on the longest baseball game in history.

(See the video at;photovideo

(CBS News) PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Thirty years ago tonight, baseball history was made in Pawtucket, R.I., in front of a crowd of almost nobody.

Bob Brek 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.

Baseball Hall of Fame remembers 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.

Dan Barry's book "Bottom of the 33rd"

"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 Brek 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.

Even Verlander has an "oops" moment

What the?! Justin Verlander commits the balk of the year

By David Brown

Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander(notes) did a quick bit of thinking — just not quick enough to slip an illegal pitch past the Oakland Athletics. Or the umpires, for that matter.

Behind lefty Dallas Braden(notes) and four relievers, the A's beat the Tigers 6-2 on Saturday night, but not before a moment of levity when Verlander committed the balk of the year.

Watch the weirdness unfold

In the fifth inning, the A's led 3-1 and put a runner on first with David DeJesus(notes) batting. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Verlander stepped backward from the pitching rubber, but he found his body in the wrong position for a throw to first base for a pickoff attempt. Instead, he comically short-armed the ball toward home.

It rocketed toward the ground and appeared to hit an unprepared DeJesus on the bottom of his right foot before it rolled to the fence. Umpires called time, and DeJesus lobbied for a HBP. Off he went to first base on his own, but umps were too confused initially to make any ruling.

"What was that?!" Tigers analyst Rod Allen said.

A's manager Bob Geren called it "the strangest thing he had ever seen."

Both managers came out to question the play. Players in both dugouts showed quizzical looks. Verlander tried to hide a grin behind his glove.

So, what did happen?

After a conference, the umpires got it right: Verlander had thrown an illegal pitch. A balk was called, the runner on first base moved to second and DeJesus' at-bat continued. He eventually walked.

Here's Verlander's explanation:

"I went to go pick one and I didn't get my body turned," Verlander said. "The way I thought — and this was all in milliseconds — if I just throw it home, they won't call anything."

Rick Eymer of described it fittingly as something suited for a softball game. It resembled a crow hop. The A's didn't know what to think.

"That was the strangest thing I've ever seen," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It took like six coaches to try to figure out what he did."

Verlander found the whole thing funny.

"I saw the video of it and I couldn't help but laugh at myself," Verlander said. "It might be the first time it happened in general. I thought nothing could happen at the plate. It was funny talking to the umpires. They gave me a hard time about it, too."

Rightly so. Verlander got out of the jam in the fifth ("At least I did that right," Verlander said) but ended up taking the loss.

How 'bout that Rod Allen

With all of the time off I have had - I have watched much Tiger baseball. The analysis provided by Rod Allen is right on. Yesterday when Michael Young came to the plate, Rod commented that Young is the most dangerous hitter in the Rangers lineup. Young promptly doubled - exactly as Allen predicted. Today the Tigers brought in Villarreal to pitch. Allen commented that Jim brought in Villarreal to pitch because of his superb move to first base. He no sooner got that out of his mouth when Villarreal caught Borbon leading off too far for the third out, without throwing a pitch. Then in the bottom of the 9th Cabrera came up witht he bases loaded and Rod commented, "no disrespect to O'Day, but he doesn't have a pitch that can get out Cabrera." and then Cabrera hit a game winning single. Awesome. Those of you with brighter minds ight say those are all obvious statements, but Rod made them on alive TV broadcast. "You go Rod!"

ByeBye Zoom Zoom

In today's Free Press one of the writers wrote about the Tiger's need to cut their losses and admit that Zumaya is done. Yes he was thrilling in 2006, but that was five years ago and he is always injured; many times caused by something "freaky" The present and the future is what we need to dwell on and not the past. Whay say Ye?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. A Texas scouting report

These Texas Rangers are coming to town with their guns loaded, and they shoot straight.

Alright, enough of the corny metaphors. The Tigers are in real trouble this week. The Rangers have the lowest ERA in the majors (2.48), and the only good thing I can say is that they probably won't face Derek Holland who shut out the red-hot O's yesterday. (Did I say red-hot? Rangers beat them two games out of three.)

Today's starter, AlexiOgando is kind of the rummy of the staff. (Only two big-league starts, but he was great at both.) I would expect they see Matt Harrison and C.J. Wilson for the rest of the series. Yeuch. These young guns are good. (Sorry, slipped back to the Texas Western slang there.)When the starters a through, you face last year's Rookie of the Year, Neftali Feliz, and he ain't facing no sophomore jinx.

The other elements of their game are just as good, with Beltre, Hamilton, Cruz and Kinsler all off to great starts with their bats. All these guys have good speed, and sound gloves. Borbon, who role-plays in center, covers as much ground as any in the bigs.

I'm getting in line for World Series tickets. Unfortunately, I predict them to take 2.5 games out of 3 against the Tigers this week. (How do you lose.5 games? I'm an optimist.)

Yankees Cheat, There, You have It!

Yankees to stop hand signals after MLB inquiry

Apr 2, 4:16 pm EDT

NEW YORK (AP)—The New York Yankees say they are finished flashing hand signals from the stands—at least for now.

General manager Brian Cashman confirmed that the team received a call Saturday from the commissioner’s office inquiring about a club employee relaying information to players after each pitch on opening day.

The Daily News reported Saturday that broadcaster Keith Olbermann, a New York season-ticket holder, put a photo on Twitter of Brett Weber, a Yankees baseball operations coaching assistant, holding up four fingers toward the field during Thursday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Weber was sitting behind home plate and wearing a headset.

Major League Baseball rules prohibit club staff from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players.

Cashman said there was a simple explanation: The Yankee Stadium scoreboard was on the fritz, so Weber was just providing the sort of post-pitch details that normally appear for all to see, such as “93 mph fastball.”

“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck,” Cashman said. “There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”

Cashman said Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator, relaying pitch information that can be displayed in center field for the fans’ enjoyment.

Cashman said Joe Garagiola Jr., baseball’s new disciplinarian, spoke Saturday morning with Yankees vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman said there was no mention of any potential punishment and he thought Garagiola was satisfied with the team’s explanation.

“I think he recognizes the fact that there’s no real advantage here. But at the same time there is a bulletin out that says you’re not supposed to do that. We explained to him that the first inning the scoreboard was reading 912 mph, so normally that stuff’s out there,” Cashman said. “I think it’s really silly, personally. But we provided all information in a truthful and honest way to Joe.”

Cashman said he thinks Garagiola plans to review the policy next week with former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations.

In the meantime, the Yankees will put a stop to those hand signals from the stands.

“We’re not going to do it until they resolve what they want,” Cashman said.

Regardless, the GM was surprised by all the “blogosphere” buzz on Friday.

“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth,” Cashman said. “The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ‘em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”