Umpire Dave Koza (left) and Denny Craig (right) were honored prior to the start of the game.
By Brian Willwerth
PAWTUCKET, RI – On Monday night at McCoy Stadium, the Pawtucket Red Sox played a regular, nine-inning baseball game. 30 years ago that night, the PawSox played a game that lasted longer – much longer.
The team marked the 30th anniversary of the longest game ever played in professional baseball.
In 1981, the PawSox and Rochester Red Wings started a game that would last 33 innings, and wouldn’t even be completed until June 23rd. The home team eventually pulled out a 3-2 win.
During a special pre-game ceremony, the team honored two men who were there for that historic moment. Denny Craig was the home-plate umpire on that night 30 years ago. Monday night, he was back behind the plate again, waiting for a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Dave Koza. It was Koza’s single in the 33rd inning that finally ended the epic clash. Craig and Koza received a warm reception from the crowd of 5,350 – considerably larger than the number of people who attended that fateful night back in 1981, (a sellout crowd attended the conclusion of the game.)
Of course, there was a game to be played Monday night. The PawSox earned their fourth straight victory, a 4-1 win over the Syracuse Chiefs. Pawtucket got a strong outing from Matt Fox, who pitched six strong innings. He only allowed one run – a long home run by Corey Brown over the centerfield wall in the second. But that would be the Chiefs’ only run – and lead – of the night.
The PawSox came right back in the bottom of the inning with a pair of runs, highlighted by a tremendous home run to left off the bat of Tony Thomas. The home team added three more runs in the third, two of them coming on Josh Reddick’s second home run of the season. After three innings, the PawSox held a 5-1 lead.
The scoreboard for the rest of the night would feature nothing but a bunch of zeros. It was eerily similar to that night back in 1981 when there were many more goose eggs on the board. But instead of ending two months later, the final out of Monday night’s game was recorded around the reasonable hour of 9 p.m.