it’s not even half way thru the season and we’ve already seen a 20 inning game, a 19 inning one, and an 18 inning. It’s rare to see just one game that’s twice as long as regulation in a season, but we’ve already got 3. In fact, the Blue Jays have almost played two of these, ’cause in addition to their 18 inning game yesterday, they also played a 17 inning game just the previous weekend in San Diego.
That, reminded me of something I found a couple years ago when I was searching through some old newspapers about the longest games. Back in 1945, the A’s needed 40 innings to beat the Tigers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t officially count as 1 game, but it really isn’t much different than one, ’cause they needed to play all 40 innings to get a W out of it.
It all began on July 21, 1945, just a few weeks before World War 2 finished, when the A’s and Tigers spent 24 innings trying to get the better of each other. The umpires called the game on account of darkness. Amazingly, that game only took 4 hours & 48 minutes. These days, some regular season games go on longer than that, but at the time, this was the record for elapsed time of game. Seriously, yeah.
Unfortunately that game didn’t count in the standings, since it ended in a tie. I don’t think they did the suspended game thing back then. If the Tigers weren’t leading the AL by just 2 games, they probably never would’ve bothered to try playing it again. But, they were caught up in a pennant race with the Senators and every win or loss, would be important. There were no wild card’s back then, so it wasn’t like the 2nd place team would still get a shot in the playoffs.
So, the Tigers played a makeup game on September 12, after their regularly scheduled game against the A’s—
“The 16-inning nightcap was a playoff of the 24 inning tie game which the two clubs played on July 21, the two fracases taking up a total of 40 innings in order to get one decision into the records.” – 2nd ref
If the league had treated it as a suspended game, the Tigers would’ve won it on Jimmy Outlaw’s single to right that scored Roy Cullenbine from 2nd, in the top of the 31st inning. When the A’s came up in the bottom half, they just smacked 3 fly balls for outs.
But since it was being treated as a new game, the A’s got some extra chances. With 2 outs in the 9th, they’d tie the game on a run scoring double by Hal Peck. Moving the game into extra innings. This is the 2nd time they’ve played this game, and both times it’s going into extra as a 1-1 tie. Who’d of thunk it?
A couple innings later, both teams would each score another run. It wasn’t ’til the bottom of the 16th, that the A’s would win it on a walk-off double by Bobby Estalella.
This “two-for-one game” is obviously fascinating for a lot of reasons, but even though it’s not a single game, I think it should be remembered as one of the longest. After all, it all had to be played in order to get one single victory.