Metroplex Mysteries: a 10-Hour Tie Game?
So we are now over 24 hours beyond the longest game in RoughRiders history. MiLB does a great job compiling minor league baseball statistics, but their records only go back to 2005, when they began tracking and storing minor league data. Therefore when we claimed the game on Wednesday as the “Longest Game in RoughRiders History,” it comes with an implied “in known history”–even explicitly stated so by us, like in the game notes from Thursday.
We do have some records from 2003 and 2004, the first two years in RoughRiders history, but they are not official and sometimes incomplete. The first broadcaster for the ‘Riders, Scott Garner left his scorebooks for the archives here, and those help a ton.
In perusing the data I could find there were a pair of 13-inning contests–nothing longer that I could find. One in particular was intriguing and just might be the true longest game in team history. For starters, here is the old box score still available in MiLB’s archive (although the box score was not produced by Minor League Baseball Advanced Media (MILBAM), so they can not verify it’s correctness–good thing too, as you will see):
So a couple of things jump out.
- There is no official game time.
- The game was tied at 4-4 but the Travelers never had their half of the 13th.
- At the top the the winner is listed “TIE GAME”.
- Steve Andrade is listed as a pitcher in line to pitch the 14th for the Travelers but never threw a pitch.
Now, games can get called and never “count” in a league, but it typically happens late in either half of the season when the game won’t be able to be made up because the two teams will not play in the same site again. Trouble is, the two teams played in Arkansas the following day. They should have been able to play the game after suspending it. The ‘Riders did play another tie game earlier that year on April 23, 2004 in Wichita despite traveling to Wichita again later in the season, so it seems the Texas League rules have changed some since then.
Still, the game appears to be an enigma.
Neither team was given a win or loss for the game, but it’s not that the game was scrapped from the records all-together, which is what happens when games are postponed before they become official (Rangers fans might remember when Mitch Moreland hit the grand slam that never happened). The stats still counted from the game.
Confounded by this game, I went to Scott’s old scorebook:
Finding the game in this book confirms that it was a tie. Paging forward to the following game shows that each team’s record did not change following the July 16 contest. The ‘Riders were 48-44 when they began on July 16 and 48-44 when they started their contest on July 17. Arkansas was 40-51 for both. So how did this game end? Well, the ‘Riders were retired in the top of the 13th:
How about the supposed never-finished bottom of the 13th? Remember the box score above showed an “x” in the bottom of the 13th, a symbol usually reserved for the bottom of the ninth when the home team wins without the benefit of batting in the bottom of the ninth.
So the inning began with Nick Gorneault striking out. Derrick Gibson then reached and was erased on the fielder’s choice by Jeff Mathis, going 5-4 for the second out of the inning. Then comes Mike Eylward. The box score at the top claims that Eylward went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts. To this point on the scorecard, Eylward was 0-for-5 with a strikeout, two fly outs, a ground out, and a line out. Deduction would assume that he struck out.
Taking a look at the card though, the last marks of his plate appearance in the 13th shows he had a 2-1 count. Maybe he struck out and it was never indicated (I have been known to not put the last play sometimes, having to go back later, as I can get busy totaling up line scores and such when the game concludes). There are also some instances in which a broadcaster would go on to another page; perhaps Scott did this at this point with how cramped the space was, and we have lost that extra card.
What seems likely is that the game was either called due to weather during that plate appearance or immediately after it. Perhaps Steve Andrade came into the ballgame and warmed up in the top of the 14th and then they called the game before the inning officially began, which is why he was entered into the scoring system but never threw a pitch.
10 hours and 56 minutes! That must have included multiple rain delays as well. Or at least you would think so, but it didn’t begin raining in Little Rock (which at the time was the home of the Travelers at Ray Winder Field), until around 11:00 p.m. Maybe this is when they called the game, which would make the game just under four hours (assuming a 7 o’clock start). That also seems unlikely since, according to the above weather data, the rain would have been starting up at that time.
With the 17th’s game played under no threat of rain, and on a Saturday, it seems strange that they didn’t finish this suspended game.
So…the mystery continues. If you have any idea what happened on this day, let us know in the comments or tweet us at @RidersBaseball ! We will try and update the post if we hear any additional info. For now, be baffled and amused.
Baseball term of the day: wilted lilly - a batter who lets his bat droop as he awaits for the pitch