Today in History: April 18

The longest professional baseball game in history started 35 years ago today. The Pawtucket Red Sox (box score above) and the Rochester Red Wings, two Triple-A teams, played 32 innings to a 2-2 tie between 8:25 p.m. and 4:07 a.m. the next morning, April 19. Several players recorded more than a dozen at bats each in the game. (Wade Boggs went four for 12 for Pawtucket and Cal Ripken, Jr. went two for 13.)

Most cities and, thus, most professional sports leagues have mandatory curfews that dictate a game should be suspended at a certain time if it is tied. This is for many reasons, all of them having to do with common sense: courtesy to the neighbors of the ballpark if the park is located in a residential neighborhood, for one thing, and also so that those in attendance who need mass transportation services to get home can catch the last trains home. The rule book in home plate umpire Dennis Cregg’s possession did not happen to have the league’s curfew rule included in it. So when 12:50 a.m. ticked by, which was the league’s mandatory, common sense, curfew hour, the two teams continued playing.

To his credit, Cregg stayed behind home plate for the entire game. It is cold in New England in April after midnight, and the players and fans did what they could with what fate had handed them: the wind grew stiff, so well-hit balls, home runs at any hour that was not 3:00 a.m., stayed in the park and were caught for outs; the clubhouses ran out of food for the players; and the air temperature dropped low enough that players burned their bats in the dugouts for heat. When a team public relations official telephoned a league official to ask what they should do, the league official, surprised that something like this was happening, demanded that they stop after the next inning was finished, if the game itself wasn’t. It wasn’t.

The decision was taken the next day to not re-start play; Pawtucket actually had a day game against a different team to be played on April 19. It was decided to resume play the next time Rochester would be in town, which was July 23. It took one inning and a mercifully quick 18 minutes to finish the game with a Pawtucket Red Sox 3-2 win.

* * * *
Today is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts and other parts of the country. It commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which were fought on April 19, 1775.

Patriots’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in April, and as part of the festivities, the Boston Marathon is run (every year since 1897) on this day, and today is the day that gives us the only morning baseball game in the Major League Baseball calendar: first pitch of the Boston Red Sox home game at Fenway Park is thrown at 11:00 a.m. to accommodate the Marathon schedule. A survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing will be on hand to throw out the honorary first pitch of the Red Sox-Blue Jays game today.

* * * *
In the Boston area on this date in 1775, Paul Revere rode and rowed from Boston to Charlestown and then to Lexington to warn patriots that the British military was on the move to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to confront with force the American militia. Hancock and Adams got away and the Americans pushed the British forces back to Boston in the subsequent battles. “One if by land, two if by sea …”

* * * *
Shortly after 5:00 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, April 18, 1906, a strong earthquake shook the city of San Francisco for about 40 seconds; 80% of the buildings in the city were destroyed and about 3000 people were killed in the quake and resulting fires.

William A. “Bill” Del Monte died in Marin County in January of this year. Del Monte was the final survivor of that earthquake and he was 11 days shy of his 110th birthday.

* * * *
Bill Russell was hired as head coach of the Boston Celtics 50 years ago today. He was the first black head coach in National Basketball Association history.

* * * *
Albert Einstein died on this date in 1955.

* * * *
Rick Moranis is 63 today. From his 2013 album, “My Mother’s Brisket,” his song, “The Seven Days Of Shiva”:

 
Eric Roberts is 60. Jane Leeves is 55 today. Conan O’Brien is 53. Melissa Joan Hart is 40.

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