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I was introduced to Major League baseball, like millions of my generation, by my dad, an inveterate fan of the New York Giants. Time upon end, I heard wondrous tales of the 1951 miracle pennant chase with the hated Bums of Brooklyn, beating them in the playoffs with the three run homer hit by Bobby Thomson off of Ralph Branca, forever known as “The Shot heard round the World.”, with Russ Hodges endlessly repeating “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT AND THEY’RE GOIN’ CRAZY! (* You can listen to the pandemonium on the field at this You Tube site.) Dad also smiles at the memories of  the Giants sweeping the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series, highlighted by the most famous catch of all time: Willie Mays streaking at the speed of light to catch Vic Wertz’s titanic drive to dead center. (* Catch the video of  “The Catch”) .

Although Dad was a die-hard Giant fan, and by definition hated the Dodgers, he always enjoyed seeing a game at Ebbets Field, home to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Dodger fans always had a great deal of fun at the park; they listened without criticism to the cacophony of the “Sym-Phony”; and then there was Hilda ringing her Cowbell. But in 1957, Dodger Owner Walter O’Malley and Horace Stoneham signed a pact with the devil, and the two beloved franchises headed out west. For the first time in baseball history, the Big Apple was left without a National League baseball team.

Soon after the departure of the Giants and Dodgers, efforts were made to establish a National League franchise in New York. Five years later, the New York Metropolitans were created and were part of the expansion of the National League in 1962, along with the Houston Colt .45’s. The Mets of ’62 were truly legendary for their ineptitude, losing 120 games; some historians consider that squad as the worst team in the history of the game. By 1964 they moved to their new gig, which would be named Shea Stadium.

After Shea Stadium opened in 1964, our family used to go on a regular basis to see Met/Giant double-headers. On Mother’s Day of 1964, Shea was filled to capacity, 50,000 fans buzzing with anticipation. Little did they know on this day the Giants and the Mets would set a record that still stands – they participated in playing what was to become the longest day in baseball history. The Giants won the first game of the twin-bill, which started at 1:05 PM. The second game would continue for 23 innings.  We finally left the stadium at about the 18th inning, as we were afraid of missing the last train connection home.  By the time we left, there was absolutely nothing left in the way of provender or drink at the ballpark.  When we arrived home I turned on the TV to see who had won the game.  Lo and behold, the game was still going on!  It was the bottom of the 23rd, the Giants had finally scored in the top of the inning; the Mets went down in order, and the ordeal was finally over.

Many years later, I found out that this game had a great deal more significance than anyone would realize at the time.  The winning pitcher was Gaylord Perry, who at that point in his career was a mediocre hurler, but on that day his pitches dived as if falling off a cliff. Gaylord would wind up winning over 300 games in his career, which bought him a ticket to Cooperstown. After his career had long ended, he disclosed that it was at that marathon in Queens that he first threw his fabled spitter.

  1. richard millman says:
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    As a life-long Cleveland Indian fan, you stung me with the Willie Mays “catch” reference but also a nice reminder of one Gaylord Perry who, along with his abovementioned “new pitch” went on to win 24 games with the Tribe and the Cy Award in the process. The award was extra-sweet as seldom did anyone other than the first place teams and their best pitcher usually win that award. Thanks for the memories.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @richard millman, Thanks. Baseball, above all, is about memories.

  2. mauledbypandas says:
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    great article, loved it!

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @mauledbypandas, Thanks much!

  3. MattTruss223 says:
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    Great story, got me reading more about the game this morning. Perry actually pitched 10 innings of scoreless relief! Holy cow! Entered in the bottom of the 13th and exited in the bottom of the 22nd. 10 innings, 7 hits, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 0 runs.

    Also, there was a triple play turned in the game.

    What a cool game to have been at. I wish baseball still did true doubleheaders. Great way to spend a day if you ask me.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @MattTruss223, Thanks, Matt. Forgot about the Triple Play. True Doubleheaders are archaic because of the increase of greed on both the part of the players and owners. Although there were characters like Comiskey that were cheaper and greedier then the present contingent.

  4. Pefacommish says:
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    Just a few weeks later, on Father’s Day in the first game of a doubleheader (remember them?) another historic event occurred. Jim Bunning threw a perfect game.

    In game 2, with 2 outs is the first, the Mets’ batter drew a walk and he received a standing ovation as he jogged to first.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @Pefacommish, Thanks for the comment. I forgot about the standing ovation in the second game. I never missed a Met game in their early years. They were the most charismatic incompetant team in the history of the game.

  5. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:
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    I remember the Bunning perfect game. The Mets fans of the early ’60’s put up with some of the worst teams in the history of baseball. Bunning, Koufax, Marichal, and a host of other pitchers rarely if ever lost to the Mets. Koufax’ streak of victories lasted for years. One game, the Mets pitched a rookie with little to no experience against Sandy. That pitcher was Tug McGraw, who beat Koufax in his prime. Tug became an instant hero.

  6. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Must have been some tired bottoms for those sitting through the 3.6 9-inning games equivalent.

    Did any of the players comment about being on the field, competitively, for those nearly 4 games in a row? Any carried off the field? :-)

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @simply fred, I don’t recall, Fred, but I do know that Eddie Kranepool, amongst, others, played the entire two games. Ballplayers were made of sterner stuff in those days.

      • AL KOHOLIC says:
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        @Paulie Allnuts, they also played for the love of the game and produced or didnt get resighned,they didnt make enough to play 2 years,get fat and lazy and not care(not that they all do now but you know what i mean)

        • Paulie Allnuts

          Paulie Allnuts says:
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          @AL KOHOLIC, The pendulum swung quickly after the Curt Flood ruling. Prior to that the players were underpaid, and it was dog eat dog. Then the Reserve Clause was modified, and players incomes shot up resulting in unbelievable numbers. Those that are professionals, like the Derek Jeters, play just as hard and are just as intense as if they were playing for $100 per day. Others, like Albert Belle and Carl Pavano, took the big bucks and truthfully didn’t care. After several years, the Yankee players hated Pavano, as they knew he was a slacker.

  7. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    great been a while since weve been enlightened with your great stories of the american pasttime,thanks Paulie

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC, Yes, I took a leave of absence, so to speak. Should write articles on a regular basis now.

      • AL KOHOLIC says:
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        @Paulie Allnuts, great job hope all is going well now

        • Paulie Allnuts

          Paulie Allnuts says:
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          @AL KOHOLIC, Thanks, things are much better now. Health issues are slowly being resolved.

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