Apr 14, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1968) Mets Lose 1-0 In One of the Longest Games In MLB History

April 15th 1968: On a warm Texas night, 14219 Astros fans cane to what was billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Houston Astrodome. This was the very first indoor stadium used for baseball & it had its own artificial turf known as Astroturf.

The Mets & Astros had both come into the league in 1962 as part of baseballs big expansion. Neither team had yet to see a winning season, the Mets were getting close as their 1969 Miracle Amazing World Championship  was one year away. The Astros would get to .500 in 1969 & not have their first winning season until 1972. Their first playoff berth would come in 1980.

This game would last six hours & six minutes going 24 innings, with only one run being scored. It is one of the longest games in MLB history, currently the ranking as the fifth longest game ever. At that time no game had ever gone scoreless beyond 22 innings & no night game had ever gone that far. Gil Hodges would use a Mets record eight pitchers on the night & a total of 23 players. The Astros used five pitchers & 17 overall players.

Starting Lineups

Two very good pitchers started out in this one & both put in great performances. The Mets Tom Seaver pitched 10 shut out innings, allowing just two hits.

Seaver walked no one & struck  out three batters. Seaver allowed a hit in the 2nd & not another one until the 10th inning, when Rusty Staub singled with two outs.

From the 11th inning to the 17th, five Mets pitchers; Ron Taylor, Cal Koonce, Bill Short, Dick Selma & Al Jackson would allow just four hits & two walks (both by Chris Short). Danny Frisella would come in to pitch five shut out innings allowing four hits, with four strike outs & a walk.

The Astros Don Wilson pitched nine shut out innings, allowing five hits, three walks & striking out five. Astro pitchers John Buzhardt & Danny Cobs got them to the 15th inning. From there Jim Ray came on to pitch seven innings, striking out 11 Mets allowing just two hits. Quite a performance. In the 20th inning Wade Blasingame came on to pitch the last four innings.

The Mets had two men on in the 7th, but Al Weis grounded out to end the inning. In the top of the 9th with two men on, Tom Seaver came to bat & grounded out to end that inning. In the top of the 12th the Mets had a golden opportunity, as Jerry Grote & Al Weis both singled. Second baseman Ken Boswell then singled as well, but Grote a slow runner couldn't score. Tommie Agee then grounded out to end the inning. Agee as well as Ron Swoboda both went 0-10 on the night.

The Mets got two men on in the 19th inning & a runner actually reached third base. Only three runners reached third base all night. But Jim Ray struck out Jerry Grote, that's when Cleon Jones stole third. Then pitcher Danny Frisella came to bat & Ray struck him out as well.

The last Mets pitcher of the night was Les Rohr. In the 22nd inning Rohr walked Rusty Staub and a wild pitch advanced him to second. With two outs (future Met) Bob Aspromonte was walked intentionally. Rohr then struck out Julio Gotay to extend the game.

In the bottom of the 24th, Norm Miller led off with a hit, Les Rohr then balked him over to second. The "toy cannon" Jimmy Wynn was given a free pass. Rusty Staub grounded out & the runners advanced to second & third. John Bateman was then walked to load the bases in hope of  a force at any base.

Next up, Bob Aspromonte hit a ground ball to short stop Al Weis, Weis committed an error & Norm Miller crossed the plate at 1:37 AM to end the game. It was a heartbreaking loss for New York.

Four years earlier the Mets had lost the longest day game in history at that time, a 23 inning seven hour 23 minute 8-6 loss to the Giants in San Francisco.

Behind the plate that night was New Jersey born Umpire, Ed Sudol. Strangely enough, Sudol would be behind the plate at Shea Stadium on September 11th, 1974 as the Mets & Cardnials played a 25 inning game, lasting seven hours, five minutes. That game is ranked as the second longest in history.

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