Discover more from Good Stuff
In 1989, the Dodgers and Astros played a seven-hour marathon that featured lots of emotions -- and one busted bat.
This game wouldn’t end.
On June 3, 1989, Houston hosted the division rival Dodgers. An upstart Astros squad against the defending World Series champs.
Los Angeles jumped to a 4–1 lead, but the Astros scraped back in the sixth inning after Houston walked three times to load the bases. Up came Ken Caminiti, singling to center field to score Billy Doran and Glenn Davis. One batter later, after a single by shortstop Rafael Ramírez, the game was tied, and it would stay that way for a long, long time.
No one could scratch across a run. In the bottom of the eleventh, Astros infielder Craig Reynolds was thrown out at home trying to score after center fielder John Shelby delivered a strike. In the bottom of the fifteenth inning—at 12:56 a.m. on June 4—Dodgers left fielder Chris Gwynn, Caminiti’s Team USA teammate and the brother of Padres legend Tony Gwynn, settled under a fly ball and threw home in time for LA catcher Mike Scioscia to apply the tag and preserve the tie game.
By that point, Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser was on in relief, and he would pitch seven innings of shutout ball. Houston countered with a series of relievers—Juan Agosto, Dave Smith, and Jim Clancy.
But Hershiser couldn’t pitch forever, and Los Angeles was running out of players. So on came third baseman Jeff Hamilton to pitch at 2:32 a.m., and pitcher Fernando Valenzuela moved to first base so Eddie Murray could shift to third. Hamilton did his best, throwing into the 90s, and held Houston at bay for his first inning. The Dodgers went 1–2-3 in the twenty-second inning, and it was Houston’s turn.
After Bill Doran singled to center and moved to second on a groundout by Davis, Terry Puhl was intentionally walked to increase the chances of a double play. On came Caminiti, hitting against a position player.
Ken was hungry for a hit, and he smelled red meat.
But he was overanxious and off-balance, mentally fatigued and swinging through Hamilton’s pitches. Hamilton threw a pitch high, and Caminiti wrapped around himself trying to hit it, whiffed by Jeff Freakin’ Hamilton.
You strike out to the third baseman at nearly 3:00 a.m., and the frustration is bound to boil over. He turned back toward the dugout, lifted his bat above his head, and brought it down over his knee, snapping the wood in half and dumping the fragments like discarded peanut shells.
One hitter later, Ramírez lined a ball that skimmed off Valenzuela’s glove, leaving just enough time for Doran to make it home in time and ending the game—FINALLY!—after seven hours and fourteen minutes, at 2:50 a.m.
The following game against the Dodgers, which started at 1:35 p.m., less than eleven hours after the previous game ended, was the Dodgers’ to lose. They jumped ahead by six runs early, but in the fifth inning, with the bases drunk, Astros outfielder Louie Meadows smashed the biggest hit of his career.
A one-run game.
The score stayed 6–5 until the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and Craig Biggio at the plate. The Astros’ nine-game winning streak was bound to end, and that was OK; the players were tired. But Biggio had other plans, hitting a home run to left and tying the game (again).
This one wrapped up in only thirteen innings, when pitcher Mike Scott hit a ball just far enough away in center field for Ramírez to score.