The Longest GameBaseball holds its records sacred. Most home runs, strikeouts, career wins. But what about the longest game ever? That honor goes to a small-town AAA game in 1981, when the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings slugged it out from dusk to dawn. The record-breaking 33 innings brought hope, despair and drama on and off the field. Radio Diaries and 30 for 30 take listeners to that frigid, surreal night with the voices who lived it – including Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr. Most heroes of The Longest Game never made it big, but their unflagging endurance made history.
30 for 30 Podcasts: The Longest Game
[BOB DREW: Holy cow, what a ball game
we have here tonight in Pawtucket.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: Three o’clock in the morning in the
freezing cold. And you’re still playing baseball in the month of April. And you’re wondering, what the hell are we
BILL GEORGE: We have a chance here tonight in little old
Pawtucket, Rhode Island to get in the history books.
ANNIE LIFE: It was just the battle. It was just the
battle for the last run.
[BOB DREW: This is unbelievable.]
TONY MANERS: Here we go.
[WPXN Radio announcer: Red Wings play
by play baseball.]
NELLIE GILLES: Welcome to 30 for 30…I’m Nellie Gilles.
When we think of historic moments in baseball, there’s a
long list. There’s Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s homerun record. Or Nolan Ryan getting 5,714 strikeouts. Or Joe
DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak.
These all happened on the big stage. In major league
ballparks packed with fans and millions more, watching or listening from home. But the world isn’t always watching
when records are broken.
In April of 1981, history was made during a minor league
game. In an old stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This is triple A baseball, one step below major leagues. On the
field are future hall of famers, WADE BOGGS and CAL RIPKIN JR., and some names you probably never heard of.
30 for 30 Podcasts brings you The Longest Game. The
longest ever played in professional baseball. This story comes from The Radio Diaries Podcasts and it’s told by those
who were there, as the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings cement their place in history.
DAN BARRY: This began as a game of absolutely no
[BOB DREW: BOB DREW along with PETE
TORRES, here at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.]
DAN BARRY: Pawtucket Rhode Island is a city of about
70,000. Working class blue collar. My name is DAN BARRY. I’m a longtime journalist with the New York Times and I wrote
a book about this game. Pawtucket was quite proud of its distinction as the triple A base for the Boston Red Sox. And
they had this stadium called McCoy stadium.
BILL GEORGE: It was kind of run down in those days and
kind of beat up. But they ran a clean shop. They watched the drinking, they watched the swearing, families took the
kids there and it was fun. BILL GEORGE, I was the official scorekeeper.
MIKE TAMBURRO: It was an early season, Saturday night.
There wasn’t much we were playing for, it was just baseball as usual. My name is MIKE TAMBURRO. I was the general
manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox. 1,740 people were in attendance when the, uh, the game was started on April 18th.
DAN BARRY: The first pitch is thrown a little after eight
o’clock and the game begins.
[BOB DREW: Cool and windy night here in
Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The wind blowing right in from center field.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: The conditions were terrible.The wind was
like a wall. It was like a big monster, just slapping balls back at you. You’d hit a shot that you thought was going
out and the shortstop would make a play on it.
[BOB DREW: Wind whipping up strong
MIKE TAMBURRO: It was, it was like nothing I’ve ever
[BOB DREW: Now we’re gonna have to hold
our papers down here in a press box. Can you imagine what it’s like down on that field? As cold as what it is up
DAN BARRY: The players on the field are in their early
20’s and they look like porn stars (laughs) from the 1980’s ok. They have the mustache, the long hair, they’re built,
[BOB DREW: For Pawtucket…WADE BOGGS,
the third baseman, will bat at 6th.]
WADE BOGGS: This is WADE BOGGS. I was the starting third
baseman on that infamous night of 1981.
[BOB DREW: Tommy Eaton will lead it off
for the wings. CAL RIPKEN will bat at 3rd]
CAL RIPKEN: This is CAL RIPKEN. I played third base for
the Rochester Red Wings. All of us were in the same boat. We were all young and we all had the same fears, the same
anxieties. Uh, we wanted to make it and we wanted to make it bad.
DAN BARRY: So you have CAL RIPKEN and WADE BOGGS, future
hall of farmers.
[BOB DREW: DAVE KOZA will be at first
base batting 5th.]
DAN BARRY: But I think of DAVE KOZA as the near perfect
personification of the minor league baseball player.
DAVE KOZA: My name is DAVE KOZA and I was a first baseman
for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
To be a part of, of triple A, uh, you know, you’re,
you’re only one step in 40 miles from, from Fenway park. If you keep playing hard, maybe you can get to the top.
ANNIE LIFE: I don’t think you could find more a team
player than Dave was. ANNIE LIFE, I was married to DAVE KOZA.
There are players that, you know, were in it for their
own average, they’re in it for their own celebrity. And that wasn’t Dave, he did whatever was best for the club.
DAN BARRY: The difference between a minor league ball
player’s daily life and a major league ball player’s daily life is a chasm.
DAVE KOZA: Triple A is like a hamburger bus league. They
call it. And, uh, it was long bus rides. We got a little envelope and it had our meal money in there, you know, enough
for a couple hamburgers during the day or whatever that was about it.
DAN BARRY: Everyone on the field, they all wanna make it
to the major leagues. Those who have already been to the major leagues want to get back. Those who have never been
But also the managers want to manage in the major
leagues. The umpires want to ump in the major leagues. It’s annoying at all of them, everyone who’s on that field. So
there’s a hunger infused throughout the night.
[BOB DREW: Here’s the pitch, there it
is a ground ball to second base. Parents gotta throw to first base and sign is retired.]
LINDA DREW: My name is Linda Drew and my husband, BOB
DREW. He was a General Manager of the Rochester Red Wings. And he would announce the games.
He thought he had a magnificent voice. (laughs)
[BOB DREW: Here’s the two-two pitch.
This is onside ball three.]
DAN BARRY: This game is being broadcast by BOB DREW and
PETE TORRES. They’re sitting in what is like a suspended mobile home that looms over the stadium. It looks like it’s
just held together with some duct tape.
Normally that broadcast would not be saved for posterity,
basically because no one could care. Right,so, in the case of this game, and it’s just serendipitous, Bob Drew had
asked his fiance back in Rochester, Linda, to record it.
LINDA DREW: I taped the games on a little transistor
radios and it had a tape cassette in it.
[BOB DREW: You fans back in Rochester.
Why don’t you drop us a postcard…. strike three call as Dan took one looking.]
DAN BARRY: The first 6 innings of the game, it’s
following the usual rhythms.
BILL GEORGE: There wasn’t, there wasn’t a lot of hitting.
But in the top of the seventh Rochester scored the first run of the game.
[BOB DREW: Chris Borjos singled to left
field driving in the lead run of the ball game. The wings leading one to nothing.]
BILL GEORGE: And the bottom of the ninth Pawtucket was in
danger of losing the game, but being behind by only one run? I’m an optimist. I’m always thinking my team can still
win this game. There’s always hope.
WADE BOGGS: It was probably pushing close to 11 o’clock.
DAN BARRY: It looks like the game is almost over. The guy
who comes up to the plate is the designated hitter. Russ Laraby.
[BOB DREW: And here we go. Laraby was
struck out swinging in the fourth. He grounded out. He struck out in the sixth. Here’s the pitch.]
BILL GEORGE: Russ Laraby hit a fly ball, called a
sacrifice fly to the outfield. Patucket scored from third base on the fly. That tied it up 1-1.
WADE BOGGS: Russ Laraby had droven the tying run. So we
were, we were ecstatic that we had tied the game.
[BOB DREW: Rochester 1 – Pawtucket 1.]
[WPXN Radio commercial: A coke and a
smile, makes me feel good…]
DAN BARRY: Once the ball game goes into extra innings,
intensity turns up a notch.
LINDA DREW: Around the 10th or 11th inning, my husband
Bob called and he said, are you still taping? And I says, oh yeah, but I only got a few tapes left. He says, They just
got an inkling about this game and I just, I want you to keep taping.
It was pretty late by then. So I call my girlfriend and
she was married to a truck driver.
So she was getting up at that time. I says the baseball
game’s still on and I’m running out of tapes. So she brings over a couple and we tape over some of her stuff. Then I
had to get into my Elvis Presley tape. Man this is insane.
DAN BARRY: She continues to record the game over the
singing of Elvis Presley and I’ve listened to the recording. And as you’re listening to BOB DREW and PETE TORRES.You
can hear in the faint background, the ghostly sounds of Elvis Presley.
[BOB DREW (Elvis Presley faint in
background): There’s a pitch fouled off on the right side. One ball and one strike.]
[Elvis Presley interlude]
[BOB DREW: You’re listening to
Rochester Red Wing Baseball on WPXN… it’ll be Laraby, Koza and Boggs.]
WADE BOGGS: It’s getting kind of close to midnight and no
one’s come close to scoring.
DAN BARRY: There’s no score in the 10th or the 11th or
the 12th or the 13th or the 14th.
ANNIE LIFE: The crowd was thinning out more and more and
more. It was Easter Eve. People wanted to get home and get the baskets ready for their kids.
WADE BOGGS: The, uh, home plate umpire’s sitting there.
And I said, Hey Dennis, when’s the game gonna be called? He goes, I have no idea. And we’re just gonna continue to
DAVE KOZA: The big question was, what about the curfew?
DAN BARRY: The players on the field and the managers in
the dugout, know that baseball has a curfew. No game shall continue beyond 1250 in the morning, blah, blah, blah,
MIKE TAMBURRO: We’ve never had to play to a curfew. And
now we’re right up against it. Jack Leitz was the third base umpire and I called Jack over and I said, you know,
there’s a curfew at 12:50 A.M.
He said, Mike, that doesn’t mean shit to me. He said
there’s no curfew. It’s not in our manual. I’ve gotta go by my manual.
DAN BARRY: Normally there would be a paragraph, it was a
boilerplate paragraph, talking about curfews. For some reason that particular paragraph disappeared from the 1981
manual. Uh, when it was being retyped by secretaries who knows it fell off the page and rolled under a table, no one
knows, but the paragraph is not there.
MIKE TAMBURRO: It’s just unbelievable that somebody made
a proofreading error that created the opportunity for this crazy night.
DAN BARRY: You know, common sense would dictate that you
would postpone the game, but that isn’t how umpires think, they are trained to follow the book. It’s telmudic.
TONY MANERS: This interpretation manual is something you
must go by, it could be what you call the umpire’s bible. My name is TONY MANERS. I was a rookie umpire in triple A
Yes, it was cold and it wasn’t getting any better. The
players were so tired. They were swinging and missing. They were almost like robots going up there. Or mummies or so,
I mean, they just couldn’t perform, but there was no point in the evening where I would have even thought of going
against what our book is actually saying.
DAN BARRY: The game continues into the great unknown of
extra innings, which means it will go on and on. Until someone scores, a winning run.
[BOB DREW: 0-2, and Pete and I have
been standing up for the last four innings, just trying to keep warm with our hands in our pockets.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: After one o’clock in the morning. The
concession stands were now giving away coffee and hot chocolate and hot dogs. We were just trying to stay alive and
[BOB DREW: Count goes to one and two,
they just came in and asked us if we like another cup of coffee. Well, I’ll tell you that would really hit the spot.
We haven’t had one in about an hour Pete.]
[PETE TORRES: No we haven’t.]
[BOB DREW: Thank you, Bill. You’re
welcome. That tastes good.]
[BILL GEORGE: You’re welcome.]
[BOB DREW: That tastes good.]
CAL RIPKEN: Nobody on the field had played that many
WADE BOGGS: We resigned to the fact that…we weren’t gonna
score, neither team. We couldn’t even get on base until the floodgates opened in the, uh, 21st Inning.
[BOB DREW: Inning number 21 here in
DAN BARRY: The Rochester Red Wings have a man on second,
and the batter is Dave Huppert.
[BOB DREW: And he doesn’t have any
hits. 0-2 pitch. There’s a shot to center field.]
DAN BARRY: He hits a fly ball to center field, and it is
a routine fly ball, but this is not a routine night. There’s a 10th player on the field and it is the wind.
The wind takes the ball and sort of plays with it like a
cat’s toy, moving it back and forth (laughs) in the air, above the center fielder, before finally dropping it.
[BOB DREW: There’s a throw into second
base and huppert’s in there sliding with a double. Dave Huppert’s first hit as a triple A ball player. It is Rochester
two, Pawtucket one.]
[WPXN Radio commercial: A coke and a
CAL RIPKEN: There was an adrenaline push. There was a
hope we’re gonna end this thing finally. You could feel the anticipation that we were gonna put this game to rest. And
then we’ll laugh about it in the clubhouse.
[WPXN Radio commercial: music fades]
[BOB DREW: Well, we go into the bottom
of the 21st inning here in Pawtucket.]
DAN BARRY: Okay, so now it’s the, the bottom of the 21st,
the Pawtucket Red Sox are up at the plate.
[BOB DREW: Koza’s the hitter.]
DAVE KOZA: I gotta go up there and stay positive and get
on base somehow, some way.
[BOB DREW: Here’s the pitch. Popped up
on the right side again. The wind is chasing at Tommy Eaton running for it. He’s underneath me. He drops it.]
TONY MANERS: Second basement starts sprinting. Dives
missed the ball by two feet. And the batter got a double.
[BOB DREW: They’re gonna give Koza a
base hit on that.]
DAN BARRY: So now DAVE KOZA is standing on second base..
[BOB DREW: So, Pawtucket with a runner
on second. One away, WADE BOGGS will be the hitter.]
DAVE KOZA: There’s always hope when WADE BOGGS steps into
the batter’s box. I mean, he was a 300 plus hitter.
WADE BOGGS: Walking up to the plate and I said, oh my
gosh, just a single through the infield has an opportunity for Dave to score.
ANNIE LIFE: I was not quiet at the ballpark. I would
always scream, “bring him home Wade” (laughs).For all the powers that be, just bring him home.
[BOB DREW: Here’s the 2-1 drive.There’s
a fly ball, left field, Hale’s chasing, and he’s not gonna get it . It’s gonna be a tie ballgame round third, comes
the tying run.]
WADE BOGGS: We just tied the game up at two o’clock in
MIKE TAMBURRO: (laughs) Instead of cheering, I remember
Oh my God. Are we gonna continue this? Uh, and yeah, we
[BOB DREW: Holy cow, what a ball game
we’ve had here tonight in Pawtucket.]
[PETE TORRES: I’ll tell you, Bob so
far, this game is five hours and 12 minutes old.]
[BOB DREW: And there’s only been four
runs scored in 21 Innings.]
BILL GEORGE: I looked out over the stadium, uh, beyond
the lights. It, it was so dark in Pawtucket that night everybody’s sleeping and we’re playing baseball. It’s (laughs)
DAN BARRY: The game reached the 22nd inning. There’s the
excitement of extra innings and then there are TOO many extra innings.
[BOB DREW: DALLAS WILLIAMS leading off
DALLAS WILLIAMS: My name is DALLAS WILLIAMS, when you’re
facing a guy at 1, 2 in the morning, everything looks unhittable. I was 0 for 8 at that point, and I said “God damn,
what do I have to do to get a hit here?” So I laid down a bunt, and the ball hit me.
[BOB DREW: Attempted bunt foul at the
plate. Oh jeez, now Morgan is hollering at the 3rd base umpire.]
DALLAS WILLIAMS: Joe Morgan thought that the ball hit me
in fair territory, and the umpires didn’t see it that way.
DAN BARRY: Joe Morgan, who’s manager for the Pawtucket
Red Sox is out on the field, screaming at the home plate umpire because he says Williams is out.
[BOB DREW: He is really hot. Morgan is
DALLAS WILLIAMS: I remember Joe running out and gets in
the umpire’s face and he was pissed.
[BOB DREW: And I’m sure you can hear
him through our microphones all the way up here.]
[BOB DREW: Ok Joe Morgan has just been
thrown out of the ball game. And I think it’s because he said I don’t give a darn or something like that.]
[PETE TORRES: Yeah something of that
DALLAS WILLIAMS: The umpire said, “hey if you don’t get
off the field. I’ll call the cops.” Joe said, “Are you crazy? What cop is going to come to a ballpark at 1 o’clock in
the morning to throw a manager out ofthe field?”
[BOB DREW: Anyway he’s been tossed out
of the ball game. And he gets a good round of applause from the few people that are left here.]
[BOB DREW: (laughs) Anyway no balls and
two strikes on DALLAS WILLIAMS.]
ANNIE LIFE: Everybody by that time was just punchy.
[BOB DREW: (laughs) I forgot what I was
about to say Pete.]
[BOB DREW & PETE TORRES: (laughs)]
[BOB DREW: (laughs) Anyway here we go.]
[BOB DREW: Now we have somebody coming
out of the Red Wing dugout. All covered up with a towel or a blanket or something to keep warm with.]
[BOB DREW: Everybodies bundled up so
tight, it’s hard to tell who the players are. That’ll bring up… “CAL RIPKEN.” Make that CAL RIPKEN.]
CAL RIPKEN: As we were getting colder, we found a, uh,
metal trash can, and we started building a fire so that we could warm our hands. Our broken bats became firewood. We
were breaking off ends of the wood bench to burn. We threw that in there.
ANNIE LIFE: We got invited to come down to Ben’s box, the
owner’s box. And that’s when the Chivas Regal scotch came out (laughs). And we were sitting there. It was me, Debbie
Boggs (laughs). We were all just huddled under all these blankets, just taking swigs out of, out of the bottle.
[BOB DREW: I’ll tell you what, I’d like
to thank all of you people who have stayed with us tonight. I hope you’re having a big party back there in Rochester,
and we’re gonna try to win it for you.]
ANNIE LIFE: There were people calling the ballpark
because their husband or son or whoever was not coming home.
TONY MANERS: Dennis Craig, the, um, plate umpire. Brought
his nephew to the ball game at one o’clock. His mother is so concerned. This was before the cell phones. Before the
internets. She called the city who called the county, who called the state. They were looking over every bridge,
looking for tail lights. Finally, they traced him back to the ballpark. The officer calls the mother and says, “Ma’am
we have found your son. He is safe. They’re in the 27th inning”.
WADE BOGGS: It’s 2:30, quarter to three. Three o’clock,
[BOB DREW: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
There are 28 fans left in McCoy stadium. 28. Loyal has, uh, started out with 1700 we’re down to 28.]
[PETE TORRES: (laughs) 28 loyal fans
[BOB DREW: Started out with 1700 we’re
down to 28.]
ANNIE LIFE: Not for one second. Did I ever think, okay,
I’m gonna go home and sleep now. There was no way, I was there till the bitter end (laughs).
[BOB DREW: That’s a strike called I
[PETE TORRES: And Bob for the fans that
are still awake back in Rochester, I would like for you to listen to the post game show, right after the conclusion of
this ball game, if it ever does end.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: As the innings mounted, and we got to 25
innings, 27 innings, 30 innings. We figured we’re, we’ve gotta be close to a record here.
BILL GEORGE: Baseball history puts a lot of emphasis on
records. Most hits in a game. Uh, most home runs, hit a season most, this most, that all kinds of crazy records. I’m
thinking wow we have a chance here tonight. In little old Pawtucket, Rhode Island to get in the history books.
MIKE TAMBURRO: It became what you were playing for at
some point, you know, because something good had to come out of this crazy night or else we all froze our rear ends
off for nothing.
DAVE KOZA: I think everyone kind of wanted it to be over,
but then again, you don’t want to give up a win.
[BOB DREW: There’s the pitch. There’s a
ground ball that might get through there, diving stop by Boggs. He’s up, throw to first base in time.]
WADE BOGGS: From 20, I think 22 to 25, I made three
diving plays. I didn’t wanna go home that night. A loser.
[PETE TORRES: I’d tell you, these,
these two teams are really competitive tonight, Bob.]
ANNIE LIFE: It was just the battle. It was just the
battle for the last run. The one that was gonna come in and end the game.
[BOB DREW: To try to break this 2-2
deadlock. It’s been tied since the 21st. My goodness.]
[PETE TORRES: And Bob, we played
exactly eight hours.]
[BOB DREW: They always told me I had a
big mouth, (Pete laughs) but I didn’t, I didn’t know. I could talk for eight hours straight.]
DAVE KOZA: Here it is at four o’clock in the morning, the
DAN BARRY: It’s even absurd to say that in baseball, to
say the 32nd inning.
MIKE TAMBURRO: Rochester gets a guy on second base.
DAN BARRY: Uh, the batter hits a single to right field.
[BOB DREW: The pitch, there’s a shot.
And might get through there. It says out in the right field for a base hit.]
DAN BARRY: John Hale is rounding third.
BILL GEORGE: Hale was trying to score it. Would’ve been
the ball game, you know, put Rochester ahead.
DAN BARRY: The manager for the Rochester Red Wings is
waving his arms like a windmill. Get your ass home, get home.
DAN BARRY: The right fielder for the Pawtucket Red Sox is
Sam Bowen. Now Bowen has to try and throw this guy out. And the entire game rides on this play, So let’s pause here.
Imagine being Sam Bowen, you’ve been in right field for
seven plus hours, on and off. I, I asked Bowen, you know, did you ever think about maybe not giving it your best
Maybe throwing it over the backstop and Bowen really got
angry with me. He said, this is what I do. I am not gonna do anything less than my best. Even though this guy is never
gonna make it back to the major leagues. And he knows it. God damnit. He is not gonna let this guy score.
MIKE TAMBURRO: Sammy takes it on two hops and makes a
throw, a tremendous throw, nails the runner at the plate.
[BOB DREW: Here comes this lead running
around to score and they’re gonna get him.]
[BOB DREW: And he was thrown out from
the right fielder to the catcher. And that ends the inning.This is unbelievable.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: You make that play in the top of the
ninth. It’s a great play. You make that play in the top of the 32nd. It’s a, it’s a historic play. To me it spoke to
the true grit of a professional baseball player that in the top of the 32nd inning at four o’clock in the morning that
he would throw out a guy at home plate in those circumstances.
[BOB DREW: So at the end of 32, it’s
still all tied up at two.]
[WPXN Radio Star Market commercial]
DALLAS WILLIAMS: At 4 in the morning, mentally I kind of
lost it. I was saying “baseball can kiss my ass tonight.” because this is not how baseball is supposed to be played.
When is this shit going to end?
DAN BARRY: So all through the night ever since the 15th
inning, uh, MIKE TAMBURRO of the Pawtucket Red Sox has been calling Columbus, Ohio. He’s been calling the home of a
guy named Harold Cooper, who is the president of the international league. And who has authority to call the game.
MIKE TAMBURRO: We called at two o’clock and he didn’t
pick up. And we called at three o’clock and he didn’t pick up. And we called at 3:30 and he didn’t pick up. It wasn’t
until about quarter of four in the morning that he finally answered the phone. He, he was in a deep sleep or he was
out in some gin mill someplace, uh, living it up.
I said, “Harold it’s quarter of four in the morning,
we’re still playing ball”. He said, “You’re still playing baseball?! There’s absolutely a curfew”. I got Jack Lietz,
third base umpire, brought him into the office.
[BOB DREW: Now the third base umpire is
out to the Pawtucket dugout. And so we don’t know what the heck’s going on.]
DAN BARRY: Cooper basically says end it now. End the
fucking game. (laughs)
[BOB DREW: And at 4:07 in the morning
on Easter Sunday, the umpires have finally suspended this ball game. And it will have to be played off at a later
MIKE TAMBURRO: We decided let’s conclude this game when
Rochester would make their next appearance at McCoy stadium and give these players at least some time off to get some
[BOB DREW: Pete you got a final word?]
[PETE TORRES: Well Bob, I’d just like
to say that both teams, they played hard the whole 32 innings.]
[PETE TORRES: And win or lose the
Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox, outta be commended for a job well done today.]
[BOB DREW: Once again, the final score
from Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
[BOB DREW: The Rochester Red Wings,
two, the Pawtucket Red Sox, two in a suspended ball game. For PETE TORRES and Howie Burns our engineer back at WPXN.
[BOB DREW: This is BOB DREW, so long
[WPXN Radio: Good morning. WPXN (theme
BILL GEORGE: I looked over right-field fence. I saw light
in the sky. It was actually the beginning of Dawn. It was a beautiful Easter Sunday morning.
DAN BARRY: I think that there are plenty of people who
would think the minor leagues as not that impressive. He played minor league ball. Oh so you never made it to the
majors, I guess. You know? So you, you probably aren’t that good.
You have to think about the millions of boys and girls
who played baseball in the Sandlot, played in the little leagues were lucky enough to make their high school baseball
team. They made it to their college team. To play college ball is impressive to play.
To play minor league ball is really, really impressive.
By the time you make it to the triple A, you are an exceptional ball player.
[JOHN MILLER: From McCoy stadium in
Pawtucket, Rhode Island on a beautiful sunshine late afternoon. I’m John Miller and…]
MIKE TAMBURRO: June 23rd was when Rochester came back to
town and we were gonna complete the longest game.
DAN BARRY: In the two months between innings. Major
league baseball went on strike.
[ABC Reporter: Major league players now
officially on strike. In fact, the owners said today, quote, the season is canceled until further notice.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: It would be the biggest baseball game,
probably the biggest sporting event in the country that day.
[Reporter 1:This is the most attention
that the city of Pawtucket Rhode Island has had since a number of years back when, believe it or not, the camel at the
local zoo here got drunk. The camel went berserk. They had to shoot the camel and animal lovers from all over the
country sent nasty letters to the mayor of Pawtucket.
[Reporter 2: Well, I’ll tell you now
Tom, Pawtucket will always be known as the place where they played the longest game in the history of baseball instead
of where they shot the drunken camel.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: 5,800 people came to the game. The place
was sold out. The people who couldn’t get tickets were on, were standing on top of their cars, looking over the fence.
DAVE KOZA: Walked out on the field and there’s cameras
and, and press like you’ve never seen before. It was like being in the big leagues, really.
[AFRTS Reporter: The armed forces radio
and television service.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: We had the armed service radio. We had the
Mainichi daily news from Tokyo. We had the BBC.
[BBC Reporter: Baseball in theory can
go on forever. And last time it just about did. It ran for eight hours and seven minutes ending after four o’clock in
the morning with no results and this in a country where they think that cricket is boring.]
DAN BARRY: Finally, the umpires shoo everyone away. So
that the baseball game can resume.
[Reporter 1: We’ll pick it up in the
33rd innings. And the batter now is CAL RIPKEN Jr.]
CAL RIPKEN: And the top of the 33rd, I got a single up
the middle, which, uh, made my one for twelve night, uh, turning to two for thirteen. Which, uh, I was kind of happy
[Reporter 1: Ripkin with a lead away
from first base and Ojeda throws.]
[Reporter 1: And there’s a fly ball
into left field running in on it is Walker, he’s there. He’s got it. And we will go to the last half of the 33rd
inning tie to two.]
DAVE KOZA: Bottom of the 33rd. I think the pressure was
already in motion.
DAN BARRY:The first batter is Marty Barrett. He gets hit
by a pitch.
DAVE KOZA: Now there’s a guy on 1st.
DAN BARRY: The next batter is Chico Walker. He gets a
DAVE KOZA: Now all of a sudden there’s a guy on 1st and
DAN BARRY: The next batter is Russ Laraby. He is walked.
[Reporter 1: The bases are loaded and
DAVE KOZA, strong right-handed batter will be coming to the plate.]
ANNIE LIFE: I couldn’t even imagine what was going
through Dave’s mind. It was just a lot of pressure, a real lot of pressure. Like the eyes of the baseball world were
on him. You’ve lived your whole life for this moment.
[Reporter 1: one ball, one strike is
the count on Koza.]
DAVE KOZA: Cliff Speck is on the mound, the pitcher for
Rochester. I recall fouling off a couple pitches that kind of told me that I was a little bit anxious.
ANNIE LIFE: When he would swing and miss, I would just
(gasp), okay. Gather your thoughts, gather your thoughts. Just see the ball coming, just see where you’re gonna put
DAVE KOZA: I just tried to focus and tried to block out
everything that I could. You know, it’s just me and the guy on the mound.
[Reporter 1: two balls, two strikes on
DAVE KOZA. Speck works to the belt.]
DAVE KOZA: He throws me a curve ball that, that pitch
gets me out almost every time.
ANNIE LIFE: I may have had my hands clapped in prayer
(laughs). At that moment, I just remember just holding my breath.
[Reporter 1: The two – two pitch line
drive. Big hit left field!]
DAVE KOZA: After I, I made contact, I just, I, I looked
DAN BARRY: It kind of floats over the head of the future
hall of Famer, CAL RIPKEN, Jr. who could do nothing to stop it. And it lands in the grass in the short outfield and
Marty Barrett touches home plate.
[Reporter 1: This game is history. As
DAVE KOZA drives in Marty Barrett.]
DAVE KOZA: I touch first base. And by the time I, I turned around to head back. You know, our teammates were, were coming
out on the field.
[Reporter 1: And the entire Pawtucket
team is now out on the field congratulating Koza.]
ANNIE LIFE: He was in the middle of this mayhem. I was
trying to get down. To give him the high five or something and couldn’t even get near because all the fans were, you
know, against the rail.
MIKE TAMBURRO: The place went absolutely bonkers. Uh it’s
like we had won the seventh game of the World Series.
[Reporter 1: And the Pawtucket Red Sox
have won the longest game in the history of organized professional baseball. This game is over, at the end of 33
innings the game ends with Pawtucket winning by a score of 3-2.]
MIKE TAMBURRO: For one day, DAVE KOZA was the king of
[ABC Reporter: (GMA Theme song) The
attention of baseball hungry fans has been captured by a minor league game. The longest game in baseball history
finally ended last night.]
DAVE KOZA: The manager had asked me if you wanna be on
Good Morning America, he said, it’s gonna be you. And, and CAL RIPKEN Jr.
[GMA Reporter: Hello fellas.]
[DAVE KOZA: Hello.]
[CAL RIPKEN Jr.: Hello.]
[GMA Reporter: Well, you had quite a
night. Didn’t you Dave. And then you won it last night. How’d you do that?]
[DAVE KOZA: Uh, well there it was bases
loaded. No one out and I’m up with the plate and, uh, I just wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right then.]
[GMA Reporter: You made sure you
touched first base though, didn’t you?]
[DAVE KOZA: Yes I did.]
[GMA Reporter: Yeah, you secure that
ball game. Well you’ve created history fellas. It was a great ball game. And congratulations to you all, winners and
[DAVE KOZA: Thank you, John.]
[CAL RIPKEN Jr.: Thank you.]
[GMA Reporter: Bye, bye.]
DAN BARRY: The minor leaguer is always hearing time
(clears throat) clearing its throat. So you could be 19 and 20. The future is just wide open for you. Okay. And you’re
gonna make it to the major leagues. Now you’re 25. You have not been called up. And now there are players who are
younger than you, you know, warming up beside you.
By the time you’re 26, 27, and 28. Now time is saying,
what are we doing here? You’re married. You have a couple of kids. You’re playing a boy’s game. You’re not getting
paid all that much. You can’t live on the free tobacco chew in their giving you in the clubhouse. You very much feel
the eyes of others on you.
And so if you’re DAVE KOZA playing for the Pawtucket Red
Sox, you are almost there.
DAVE KOZA: Being so close. It drove me nuts. It really
did. Just always hoping that I would get that shot, you know, to play at Fenway park.
DAVE KOZA: I played for two more seasons here I am 29
years old. Made an appointment to go see the, uh, Minor league director, Ed Kenny, in Boston. The meeting didn’t last,
I don’t think more than 10 minutes. Um, he said that they weren’t interested in me and he just pretty much made it
clear that no, the Red Sox were not gonna, you know, offer me a contract and that’s it. That was gonna be the end of
it. As far as me playing baseball again, it just wasn’t meant to be.
ANNIE LIFE: I remember being out in the parking lot of
McCoy, we were packed up to go and we had this tiny little newborn baby in the backseat and, um, oh, it was heart
wrenching that he wasn’t gonna be playing the next season.
MIKE TAMBURRO: Without knowing it, the longest game was
gonna be the most important day of his career. And he didn’t realize it at the time. Those are the guys that I really
a, admired the most in all my years in this business, the guys who had put up big numbers, who had worked hard, we
call ’em four A players, cuz they’re not big leagues and they’re not triple A they’re a little bit above, but not
DAN BARRY: In the years to come. WADE BOGGS and CAL
RIPKEN Jr. wind up having hall of fame careers. DALLAS WILLIAMS wound up getting major league playing time and became
a well respected batting instructor and coach, he’s still in the game to this day.
DAVE KOZA never played a single game in major league
baseball, but his bat and his portrait did make it to Cooperstown.
[Reporter: DAVE KOZA has been in the
Red Sox farm system for the past seven years, but never, never has there been a night like tonight. Koza and Marty
Barrett who scored the winning run forever now will be immortalized in baseball’s hall of fame. Because no one has
ever played 33 innings before and until two teams do it again, DAVE KOZA and all the Pawtucket Red Sox are a unique
chapter in baseball’s long history. And it all happened right here in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. As Phil Rizzuto the
Yankees play by play announcer likes to say “How do you like that?”]
NELLIE GILLES: In 2021, the Pawtucket Red Sox, under new
ownership, left the city which they’d called home for over 50 years and moved to Worcester, Massachusetts.
The old McCoy Stadium, with its murals to honor
baseball’s longest game, now stands empty.
This story was produced by me, Nellie Gilles, of The
Radio Diaries Podcasts. We’re a part of PRX’s Radiotopia network. It was edited by Deborah George, Ben Shapiro and Joe
Richman, and mixed by Brendan Baker.
Our Archival Producer was Meghan Coyle, and our
production assistant was Delilah Righter. Dan Barry was our Consulting Producer. If you want to learn more about this
game check out Dan’s book Bottom of the 33rd.
The ESPN 30 for 30 podcast team includes Senior Editorial
Producer Eve Troeh; Line Producer Cath Sankey; Associate Producer Gus Navarro, Executive Producers Marsha Cooke, Brian
Lockhart and Rob King. Licensing support from Jennifer Thorpe, Fact Checking was done by Daniel Tomaro.
Additional thanks go to ESPN’s 30 for 30 Development and
Production Teams: Adam Neuhaus, Tara Nadolny, Trevor Gill, Marquis Daisy, Isabella Seman and Diamante McKelvie.
I’m Nellie Gilles, thanks for listening.
Produced by: Nellie Gilles
Editors: Deborah George, Ben Shapiro and Joe Richman
Sound Mixing by Brendan Baker
Archival Producer: Meghan Coyle
Consulting Producer: Dan Barry
Senior Editorial Producer: Eve Troeh
Line Producer: Catherine Sankey
Associate Producer: Gus Navarro
Production Team: Adam Neuhaus, Tara Nadolny, Trevor Gill, Isabella Seman, Diamante McKelvie, Marquis Daisy
Executive Producers: Marsha Cooke, Brian Lockhart, Rob King
Licensing: Jennifer Thorpe
Fact Checking: Daniel Tomaro
Episode keyart: Alexander Wells