Harold Baines and the infinite ballgame

Via the endlessly diverting Stat of the Day blog, an account of the game between the Brewers and the White Sox on May 8, 1984, whose 25 innings took 8 hours and 6 minutes to play. SOTD came across this game because it was the only one since 1957 in which a player (in this case, Robin Yount) got three hits and grounded into three double plays in the same game.

What a game this must have been — Yount steals third in the top of the 9th and then scores on an error to put the Brewers up 2-1; they add an insurance run, too, but the White Sox put two across and go to extras at 3-3. Blown save for Rollie Fingers, having his last great year. Then a lot of quiet. The White Sox load the bases with 1 out in the 14th and can’t score. Get men on second and third in the 18th and can’t score. Clearly they can’t possibly win this game. Top of the 21st, Ben Ogilvie hits a 3-run homer for the Brewers, and at last it looks over. But now the White Sox wake up, and with a string of singles push their own three runs across — runners on 1st and 2nd, tie game again, one out, and again the White Sox can’t end it. In the 24th, Floyd Bannister comes up to hit for the one and only time in his 13-year AL career, and grounds out with a man on second to end the inning. Benches empty, middle of the night. Hard to see how this game can possibly ever end. But there is one thing about the White Sox not yet spoken for. And that is professional hitter Harold Baines. In a brutal slump, hitting .172 entering the game. Up for the 10th time in the bottom of the 25th, 1-9 on the night, he says “This ends now” and homers to center field. I imagine him being very cool about it.

I know Harold Baines isn’t going to the hall of fame, and I can’t really make a case on the merits that he should be there. But if I have to pick a player of my youth to come up for my team with the game on the line, I think it’s him. Here’s to you, professional hitter Harold Baines.

2 thoughts on “Harold Baines and the infinite ballgame

  1. Andy says:

    Very nicely written. Baines was such a quiet guy and yet, as you suggest, a very determined and intimidating player.

  2. Andy says:

    Also, check out a new post on Baines at the Stat of the Day blog, right here:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/archives/177

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