Remembering Mets History: (1968) Mets Lose 1-0 in a Six Hour 24 Inning Game - One of the Longest Games in MLB History

April 15th, 1968: On a warm south Texas night, 14,219 fans came to see the Astros host the New York Mets. 

The Houston Astrodome was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was the very first indoor air-conditioned stadium, home of the MLB Astros from its opening in 1965 thru 1999. 

The Astrodome was also home for the NFL Oilers (1968-1996) & the NBA Rockets (1971-1975) The stadium held concerts & other events such as the Houston Livestock & Rodeo, held annually from 1966-2002. 

The astrodome was the first stadium with artificial turf known as Astroturf & the first animated scoreboard "Astrolite". With its space age theme, it had female usherettes dressed in spaced out costumes known as "spacettes" & ushers dressed in space suits complete with helmets.

The Mets & Astros had both come into the National League in 1962 as part of baseballs big
expansion. Neither team had yet to see a winning season, after seven seasons, although 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.

The folks attending tonight's game had no idea what they were in for as this game would last six hours & six minutes going 24 innings, with only one run being scored. 

It was the longest games in MLB history at that point & currently ranks as the fifth longest game ever played.  At that time, no game had ever gone scoreless beyond 22 innings & no night game had ever gone that far. 

Mets manager Gil Hodges would use a Mets record eight pitchers on the night & a total of 23 players. The Astros used five pitchers & a total of 17 players.

Two very good pitchers started out in this game, both putting in good performances. For the Mets Tom Seaver started out the game & retired the side in order in the 1st inning. 

In the bottom of the 2nd, he gave up a one out double to Hal King, then threw a wild pitch advancing King to third. The next batter Bob Aspromonte bounced a ball to second where the Mets Ken Boswell threw home & nailed Hal King at the plate trying to score.
Seaver then got Julio Gotay to pop up behind the plate to Jerry Grote.

After giving up that double, Seaver retired the next twenty-five batters in a row, getting all the way into the 10th inning when Rusty Staub singled to right field. Seaver then retired Hal King for the third out.

On the night, Seaver pitched ten innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits. He walked no one & struck out just three batters.

For Houston, their starter was Don Wilson. Wilson would win 15 or more games three times in his career & have double figures in wins for eight straight seasons. On this night he shut out the Mets for nine innings, scattering five hits & three walks while striking out five. 

In the 7th inning he gave up a leadoff single to Ed Kranepool then with two outs walked Tom Seaver. But then he got Al Weis to ground out to first base to end the inning. It was the only inning the Mets had two baserunners while Wilson was pitching.

The Mets then used five pitchers from the 11th inning to the 17th inning. Ron Taylor, Cal Koonce,
pitched the 11th, giving up a two out base hit to Hector Torres but then retired Doug Rader for the third out.

In the top of the 12th, Astro pitcher Danny Combs gave up three singles, but when Ken Boswell singled the slow-footed Jerry Grote couldn't score from second base. Tommie Agee then grounded out to second base to end the threat & the inning. In the bottom of the 12th, the Mets Cal Koonce faced two batters with Ron Davis singling & Norm Miller sacrificing him over. 

Mets manager Gil Hodges went to Bill Short in the bullpen. Short intentionally walked Jimmy Wynn then got Rusty Staub on a pop up & struck out Hal King to end the inning. 

Danny Combs retired the Mets in order in the 13th. In the bottom of the inning Bill Short gave up a one out single then walked Hector Torres putting the winning run in scoring position.

Gil Hodges went to Dick Selma in the Mets bullpen who got out of the inning, getting two flyball outs. The Mets Al Jackson came on pitching three scoreless innings striking out four along the way. Danny Frisella came on & gave the Mets five more scoreless innings, he did not allow a hit, walked one & fanned four, getting to the 22nd inning.

For Houston, pitcher Jim Ray came on in the 14th inning & gave the Astros seven scoreless innings. He retired the first nine Mets he faced before a leadoff double from Ed Charles "the Glider' in the 17th inning. Jerry Grote sacrificed him over, but Ray struck out Bud Harrelson & got Al Weis to ground out to end the inning. 

In the 18th, Jim Ray struck out the side. In the top of the 19th, the Mets got a leadoff single from Cleon Jones who was sacrificed over to second. The Glider Ed Charles was walked intentionally, then Ray struck out Jerry Grote as Cleon Jones safely stole third base. But he was stranded there as Jim Ray struck out the Met pitcher Danny Frisella to end the inning.

 In the top of the 21st inning, Houston's Wade Blasingame came on to pitch, he would go the last four innings, giving up just one hit.

In the top of the 22nd, Jerry Grote singled with one out & he was sacrificed over by pitcher Don Cardwell, who was being used as a pinch hitter as Gil Hodges was running out of players. But Al Weis grounded out to third to end the inning.

The last Mets pitcher of the night was 22-year-old Les Rohr. In the bottom of the 22nd inning, Rohr struck out Jimmy Wynn, then walked Rusty Staub. A wild pitch advanced Rusty to second. After retiring Hal King, Bob Aspromonte was walked intentionally. Rohr then struck out Julio Gotay to end the inning & extend the game.

Wade Blasingame retired the Mets in order in both the 23rd & 24th innings. As Les Rohr had an east 23rd inning retiring the Astros 1-2-3.

In the bottom of the 24th, the Astros Norm Miller led off with a single. Les Rohr then balked, advancing the runner over to second base. The "toy cannon" Jimmy Wynn was given a free pass. 

Rusty Staub then grounded out but advanced the runners to second & third. Pinch hitter John Bateman was then walked intentionally to load the bases in hope of a force out at any base.

Then Bob Aspromonte hit a ground ball to short stop Al Weis, Weis booted the ball, Norm Miller crossed the plate with the games walk off winning run at 1:37 AM to end the game. 

It was a heartbreaking loss for New York. The Mets had beaten Houston the game before with a combined shut out from Nolan Ryan & Danny Frisella. They split the two games at the Astrodome. 

Luckily, they had an off day the next day as they had to travel to San Francisco for a series with the Giants. In the first game Jerry Koosman shut out the Giants in font of over 52,000 at Candlestick Park.

Trivia: 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.

Trivia: The home plate umpire in that long game was New Jersey born Umpire, Ed Sudol. Sudol was an MLB umpire from 1957 to 1977. 

Strangely enough, Ed Sudol would be behind the plate at Shea Stadium on September 11th, 1974, as the Mets & St. Louis Cardinals played a 25-inning game, lasting seven hours, five minutes. That game is ranked as the second longest in MLB history.


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