Sundin column: Are you ready for some baseball?
As I See It
I have been a baseball fan for well over 80 years, and miss it greatly this year. It is a game of precision and split seconds. If the dimensions of the diamond differed from the present 90 feet by as little as a foot or two, it would destroy the game by making it either too easy or too difficult to beat out singles or steal bases.
I recently found a couple of box scores I had saved from the Denver Post several years ago. One was a marathon game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres on April 17, 2008, that the Rockies won 2-1 in 22 innings, with both teams scoring a run in the 14th inning. The other was a slug-fest between the Rockies and the Florida Martins that the Rockies won 18-17 with two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
This made me wonder if there had been any longer or higher-scoring games in the modern era of Major League Baseball, started in 1901 with the formation of the American League competing with the older National League, leading to the first World Series in 1903. I found that there were eight 22-inning games and eight games longer than 22 innings. The longest was a 26-inning game between the Brooklyn Robins and the Boston Braves on May 1, 1920, that ended in a 1-1 tie, called due to darkness. Amazingly, both starting pitchers pitched the entire game.
There have been two 25-inning games. On Sept. 11, 1974, the New York Mets overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning in a game with the St. Louis Cardinals to tie the game at 3-3, only to lose by one run in the top of the 25th.
A game between the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers on May 8, 1984, was stopped at 1 a.m. tied at 3-3 after 17 innings. It was resumed the next day with both teams scoring three runs in the 21st inning. The White Sox finally won 7-6 in a record playing time of eight hours and six minutes. There have been three 24-inning and two 23-inning games, the most interesting of which was on April 15, 1968, won by the New York Giants over the Houston Astros.
The most runs scored in a Major League Baseball game was 49 in a 26-23 game won by the Chicago Cubs over the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 25, 1922.
The most runs scored in a game by one team was 30 by the Texas Rangers over the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 22, 2007.
The most runs scored by one team in one inning was 17 by the Boston Red Sox on June 18, 1953.
The most runs scored by two teams in one inning is 19 in a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox.
The rarest feat in Major League Baseball history is for a team to score in all nine innings. It has happened only three times: on June 1, 1923, when the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 22-8, on Sept. 13, 1964, when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 15-2, and on May 5, 1999, when the Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs 13-6 with five one-run and four two-run innings.
So much for team performances; now for some rare individual records. A “perfect game” in which no batters on one team get on base, requires both a perfect performance by the pitcher and no errors by his team-mates. It has been achieved only 21 times in the past 119 years, The most famous was by Don Larsen in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series. Even rarer is an unassisted triple-play, which requires a rare combination of circumstances and has been completed only 15 times. In 1927, it happened on two successive days (May 24 and 25) — and not again until 1968. The most recent was on Aug. 23, 2009.
There have been only seven players in modern Major League Baseball who have had a season batting average of .400 or more. The first (and the highest) was Napoleon Lajoie of the Philadelphia Athletics who batted .426 in 1901. Ty Cobb batted .420 and .410 in 1911-12, and Rogers Hornsby of the St. Louis Cardinals averaged .403 in 1921-25. No one has batted over .400 since Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox batted .406 in 1941.
“As I See It” (usually) appears on the first Thursday of the month. Hal Sundin lives in Glenwood Springs and is a retired environmental and structural engineer. Contact him at email@example.com.
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