In to the Game
The game began at 8:25 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, 1981, following a 30-minute delay due to issues with the stadium lighting, with an estimated 1,740 in attendance. It lasted all through the night and even to the morning of Easter. More so, there are some curfew policies from most leagues that would have stopped the game, which is in effect at a few minutes to the hour of one in the wee hours of the morning.—home plate umpire Dennis Cregg’s rule book did not.
Several times, a team came within a whisker of winning before the situation was overturned. Even the Pawtucket players grumbled the moment Wade Boggs drove home the tying run in the bottom of the 21st inning following a Rochester score. “I didn’t know if the men on the team wanted to embrace me or slug me,” he remembered. The weather was so cold that players warmed themselves by burning broken bats and the stadium’s wooden seats, and the clubhouses ran out of food. The wind blew into the infield, making hitting difficult; Pawtucket’s Dave Koza subsequently stated that if the wind hadn’t blown into the infield, his team would have won in nine innings with “four or five shots that would have gone out of the park.”
Sam Bowen, for instance, launched a fly ball to center that allegedly left the field before being blown back to Rochester outfielder Dallas Williams by the wind. Williams finished 0 –thirteen in fifteen plate features, one of several records set during gameplay.
After Luis Aponte of the Pawtucket team had pitched in relief from seventh all the way to the tenth inning, manager Joe Morgan—who Cregg would dismiss in the 22nd inning—let him depart before the game finished. Aponte’s wife was skeptical of his story for arriving home at 3 a.m. Sunday. He promised that the Sunday newspaper would confirm his claim, but because the game was postponed too late for it to appear, Aponte would have to wait until the Monday edition.
David, Cregg’s nephew was brought to the game, so when David’s father got worried about his family, he phoned the cops, who told him that the game is far from from conclusion. The players were “delirious” from weariness by 4 a.m.; Rochester’s Dave Huppert caught the first 31 innings before being substituted. Jim Umbarger pitched ten shutout innings from the 23rd, striking out nine, allowing four hits. The league’s president, Harold Cooper, was ultimately contacted on the phone shortly after 3:00 a.m. by Pawtucket PR manager Mike Tamburro; the shocked Cooper ordered that play be halted at the end of the current inning.
The game was finally called at 4:07 a.m., at the end of the 32nd inning and more than eight hours after it began. Just 19 people were still seated, not counting David Cregg, who slept off, and they all earned the McCoy Stadium lifetime access. The players went home to recuperate before returning to the field at 11 a.m. They noticed folks going to the Easter dawn ceremony for an afternoon game that Sunday. When Boggs’ father congratulated him on his four hits in the game, the player revealed that he had only had 12 at-bats. On Sunday, both teams autographed a baseball that will be displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cooper proposed that the game restart that day, but Rochester manager Doc Edwards asked for a postponement due to the danger of injury. Instead, it continued on Tuesday, June 23, the following time the Red Wings were in town. The game drew a sellout audience of 5,746 people and 140 reporters from around the world, in part because the major leagues were on strike at the time; So to avoid crossing the picket line the players voted against resuming the match up at Fenway Park. It just took one inning and eighteen minutes to end the game that night, with Koza driving home the winning run in the bottom of the 33rd.
Steve Grilli, who had joined Rochester in the interim after the game’s postponement, took the loss. On June 23, 2006, the Pawtucket Red Sox honored the game’s 25th anniversary. A luncheon and round table discussion were conducted in Providence, Rhode Island, and a ceremony was performed before the game versus the Columbus Clippers that night. Dennis Cregg believes David Cregg hasn’t ever attended any baseball game.
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