The game I'll never forget.
"It's more like the game you can't possibly forget," laughed the 66-year-old Paciorek. "I was 37 when that game started. I felt like 57 when it ended."
It didn't quite take 20 years, but it did take two days to finish and remains the longest game--by time--in major league history, at eight hours, six minutes.
On May 8, 1984, the White Sox hosted the Brewers at the old Comiskey Park, and on May 9 the two teams completed the game, entering the record books--and as many hot tubs as they could find.
"The thing that is so great about baseball is every day is so different and so unpredictable," Paciorek said. "Almost every day you say, 'There's something I've never seen before in baseball.' Well, that game had just about everything." Including several records, among them Paciorek setting the mark for most hits in a game (5) by a player who did not start the contest. "I wasn't supposed to play," Paciorek said.
"I was looking forward to a day off, especially since Don Sutton was pitching. That's three strikeouts for me. I didn't know I was going to bat 10 times or play seven hours of baseball."
Ron Kittle started for the White Sox in left field and was already 0-for-1 with a strikeout when the batboy was sent to look for Paciorek.
"You have to understand that before every game, we would order a pizza and send it to the umpires' room adjacent to the clubhouse, and all the guys not playing would go in there and eat the pizzas," Paciorek said. "So I was in there eating with the rest of the scrubs when the batboy came running in."
Kittle had been suffering with shin splints, and after a few innings he told Chicago manager Tony La Russa that he couldn't go on.
"I was minding my own business, watching the game on TV and eating pizza when the kid came running in and said, 'You gotta go in for Kittle!' I said, 'Why can't he strike out for himself?' The kid said, 'He can't. You have to go play left.' Well, here I was with pizza sauce all over my jersey and my face and grease all over my fingers, and it was only a few minutes before I was batting.
"Our bullpen coach, Art Kushner, used to say about me all the time that I ought to throw my bat and helmet before I hit, because it always winds up that way anyway. Sure enough, Sutton punched me out on three hooks and I threw my bat and helmet. As I was coming back in the dugout, I said, 'Kitty, you could have done that for yourself.' But the day got better for me after that."
In his next at-bat, Paciorek singled to left to score Greg Walker in the bottom of the sixth, giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead. But the Brewers got it back in the next half inning against Chicago starter Bob Fallon, who walked the leadoff hitter and was removed.
"A lot of guys had bad days that day. There were some 1-for-10s (Vance Law) and 1-for-11s (Julio Cruz), and that early in the year, that only takes your batting average down about 150 points," Paciorek quipped. "But Fallon gave up one hit in six innings, he gets pulled and the bullpen gives up a run, which counts against him.
"Then, after the game, he gets sent down to the minors. I'm sure we needed more arms after 25 innings. We used the whole staff. But talk about a bad day. You pitch a one-hitter and get sent down."
It was still tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth when Robin Yount doubled, stole third and came home as catcher Canton Fisk threw the ball into left field. Ted Simmons also scored on a base hit by Ben Oglivie, and it was 3-1 Brewers heading to the bottom of the ninth.
"No big deal," Paciorek said. "All we have to do is get a pair off Rollie Fingers. Guys were making plans for where we were going after the game."
Despite that daunting task, Paciorek reached second on an error to lead off the ninth. He scored on a two-out double by Cruz, but Fingers was in the driver's seat and the game looked to be over when Fingers struck out Rudy Law.
Or so it appeared.
"(Milwaukee catcher) Jim Sundberg jumped up and pumped his fist and we all thought the game was done," Paciorek said. "But the home plate ump (Jim Evans) didn't ring him up. The Brewers' bench went nuts. Next pitch, Rudy gets a base hit to left and the game is tied. Little did we know what that got us into."
Very little would happen for the next 11 innings, as the game remained tied at 3-3.
"When you get into a game like that, it starts to feel like it's impossible to score," Paciorek said. "And the longer it goes. the more tired you get and the worse the concentration."
Only a few hundred of the 14,754 were still at Comiskey after 17 innings, when the game was suspended at 1:05 a.m. because of a Chicago ordinance prohibiting more baseball.
"Thank God for that curfew," Paciorek said. "We would have been there until breakfast."
When they resumed play the next night, 17, 715 showed up, probably more because Tom Seaver was the scheduled starter for what became Game 2 of an unscheduled doubleheader.
White Sox reliever Juan Agosto blanked the Brewers over the final four innings on May 8. Then, on May 9, he took the ball again and tossed another three scoreless innings.
"That was amazing to me," Paciorek said. "He was a one-inning specialist and he had already thrown all those pitches the night before. But he knew we were out of pitchers and he had to throw. He could have said he was cooked, but he didn't."
The only pitcher who threw more in that game was the final Brewers pitcher, Porter, who tossed 7.1 innings. There were other impressive efforts, like Fisk catching a major leage-record 25 innings.
"That was nothing for him," Paciorek said. "Pudge was in that kind of shape. The rest of us were looking for a ride home. Pudge was just doing his thing."
When Ron Reed replaced Agosto in the 21st inning, the Brewers finally broke through. With two outs, a single and a walk preceded a three-run homer by Oglivie, and it looked like the marathon would finally come to an end.
"After a while, it just feels like you have no chance to score," Paciorek said. "You need something weird to happen to get back in it when you're down that much in extras."
And, of course, it did.
Rudy Law led off the bottom of the inning with a routine grounder to third baseman Randy Ready, who threw it 40 feet over the head of Oglivie at first and into the box seats.
"That pumped some life into us," Paciorek said. "We were able to find a few holes after that. One play may not seem that significant, but when that first guy reaches on an error, something bad always happens to the team that makes that error."
Fisk singe in a run off Porter, and with one out and the bases loaded, Paciorek ripped a single to center to score a pair and the game was tied at 6-6 after 21 frames.
"I remember looking at the first-base umpire, Greg Kosc, when I got to first and he was just shaking his head," Paciorek said. "I don't think he was as happy for me as I was."
With starter Rich Dotson pinch-running (and scoring) for first baseman Marc Hill in the 21st, Paciorek moved to first from left, Dave Stegman went from DH to left, and Reed shifted to the third spot in the batting order.
When Reed batted in the 22nd inning, he became the first White Sox pitcher to bat in a game since Ken Brett in 1976. He managed to tap back to the pitcher.
It was still 6-6 in the bottom of the 23rd when the White Sox had another opportunity to win the game.
With one out and Stegman on first, Paciorek singled to deep center. As Stegman raced around third with thoughts of scoring, he ran headfirst into third-base coach Jim Leyland, who was frantically trying to hold the runner. Stegman got back to third, but Brewers manager Rene Lachemann went running out to the umpires, who got together and called out Stegman for interference.
"Tony protested the game and I don't really know why because Leyland just about tackled Stegman," Paciorek said laughing. "Vance Law got a base hit right after that, which would have ended the game, but Stegman was long gone."
Seaver entered to pitch the 25th, even though he was supposed to start the next game that night. The move was unconventional, but Chicago had used every player on the roster except LaMarr Hoyt, who had started the day before. Well, now it was two days before.
"It made sense because everyone else was spent," Paciorek said. "Tom was really uncomfortable coming in like that because it was so out of the norm for a guy who had almost 300 wins already."
But Seaver did the job, and finally in the bottom of the inning, Baines took Porter deep to center field to end the longest game in major league history, sending both teams home ... to their clubhouses to get ready for another game.
"I was on deck, and when he crossed home plate I told Harold he ruined it because I was going to do that," Paciorek said. "Makes you wonder why no one else did that, but it was probably because everyone was trying to do that. I'm no one to ask. I only hit 86 home runs in my career. I told Frank Robinson once that we were not that different as players. He only hit 500 more home runs than me."
After earning the "W," Seaver no-hit the Brewers for four innings in the game scheduled for that night, and worked eight-plus for his second win in a couple of hours. Mercifully, the second game lasted just more than two hours (2:09), a mere six hours shorter than the previous one. Still, it was 17 innings on May 8, followed by 17 innings on May 9.
"Every time I see a game go to extra innings, even if it's Little League, I think about that game," Paciorek said. "I didn't find out until about 2008 that I have the all-time record for most hits in a game that a player didn't start, but it stands to reason that it would be someone in a game like that.
"But they kept that one kind of a secret, didn't they?" Now the secret is out--and it's a record that might never be broken.
White Sox DH recalls marathon game in 1983 when Chicago defeated the Brewers in a 25-inning, eight-hour contest that spanned two days
As Told To Barry Rozner
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Date:||May 1, 2013|
|Previous Article:||Baseball quick quiz: collect 10 points for each question answered correctly. (If you score 80 or better, you are a Hall of Famer; 70 or better, MVP;...|
|Next Article:||MLB'S RBI program: Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities works to help youth learn the sport with a focus on education and life skills outside the game.|