Had the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres played much longer, they could have turned out the lights. It would have been daybreak.
The teams began playing a doubleheader at 4:35 p.m. EDT Friday and finished at 4:40 a.m. Saturday, about an hour before sunrise.
There were three rain delays during the first game, won by the Padres, 5-2, and it didn’t end until after 1 a.m. Then came a 25-minute intermission, followed by a 10-inning game won by the Phillies, 6-5.
In all, the two games took 12 hours 5 minutes.
“I’ve never been through anything like this. I stayed because I had to,” said relief pitcher Mitch Williams, whose run-scoring single in the 10th inning of the second game mercifully ended the proceedings.
The 4:40 a.m. finish was the latest in major league history, the Elias Sports Bureau said Saturday. The New York Mets’ 19-inning, 16-13 victory at Atlanta on July 4, 1985, ended at 3:55 a.m. the next day. Phillie outfielder Lenny Dykstra played for the Mets in that game.
The umpires, using forecasts relayed from Phillie executive vice president Dave Montgomery, waited and waited and waited for a break in the rain Friday night.
The first game took 8:28, including 5:54 in rain delays and 2:34 in actual playing time. The second game took 3:12 without a drop of rain.
Rain delayed the start 1:10, another 1:56 after three innings and 2:48 after five. The game ended at 1:03 a.m. and the second game started at 1:28 a.m.
Phillie spokesman Larry Shenk said the club was ready to go with a doubleheader Saturday, but the umpires made the call.
The announced attendance was 54,617. When Williams--in his first at-bat of the season--lined his game-winning single to end the second game, about a thousand fans were left.
After spending more than a half day at the ballpark, they chanted, “We want Mitch.”
Four minutes later, Williams popped out of the dugout and tipped his cap.
“I do some of my best work at 4:30 in the morning,” said Williams, who earned the victory with two innings of shutout relief.
“It was a tough day all around,” Williams said. “We’ve been here more than 12 hours trying to end this. But we needed to win the second game. . . . My family was here, but left after the first game. I’m sure my mother is asleep by now. My father went to sleep in my truck (in the parking lot).”
Williams said Saturday he played a tape of his winning hit for his father as soon as they got home.
The second-game victory enabled the Phillies, who rallied from a 5-0 deficit, to boost their NL East lead to six games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
What did the players do during 5:54 of rain delay?
“A lot of card playing,” said Phillie pitcher Terry Mulholland, the loser in Game 1. “Some money exchanged hands. Maybe a paycheck or two.”
Others amused themselves watching television, reading, and playing tape recorders. The Rolling Stones’ “Time Is on My Side” was a big hit.
Dewitt Hobbs, the 73-year-old security guard in the visitor’s clubhouse, said, “It’s been 50 years since I stayed out all night.”
During the 16 hours they were in the park, the players spent about six on the field. There was no batting practice, no infield drill.
“I arrived at the park in sunlight and I left in sunlight,” Phillie outfielder Pete Incaviglia said. “That’s never happened to me before for a night game.
“It’s great to be part of history,” he added.
San Diego Manager Jim Riggleman said the first game should have been called after five innings with the Padres ahead, 3-1, and the rain creating huge puddles on the tarpaulin covering the infield.
“I know the rain delay is the hardest decision (for the umpires),” Riggleman said. “But once the rain started the second time, let’s go home.”
Dana DeMuth, the head umpire, disagreed. “We treated it just like any other game,” he said. “Our job is to get the game in. That’s what we did.”