Wednesday, September 11, 1974 - At Shea Stadium (Bob Forsch - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: New York Mets (Jerry Koosman - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 13,460
It was the longest game in franchise history - the second longest game in major league history:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 25 R H E
St Louis 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 18 2
New Yk 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 16 4
It took seven hours and four minutes to complete.
The Cardinals scored the winning run in the 25th-inning - an unearned run - when the Mets committed two errors on one play.
Otherwise, this game may have lasted another 25 innings...
The first run the Mets scored, in the bottom of the first - also happened to be unearned. Otherwise, the two-out two-run home run Ken Reitz hit in the top of the ninth would have been a game winner.
Instead, it prolonged this classic for another sixteen innings - and started the Cardinals on a six-game winning streak, which would propel them into first-place in the NL East - at least for a while.
IP H R ER BB SO HR
Bob Forsch 6 5 3 2 4 3 1
Mike Garman 2 0 0 0 0 2 0
Al Hrabosky 3 2 0 0 0 3 0
Rich Folkers 2 3 0 0 1 2 0
Ray Bare 0.1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Claude Osteen 9.1 4 0 0 2 5 0
Sonny Siebert W (8-8) 2.1 2 0 0 3 1 0
After Forsch yielded a fifth-inning two-run home run to Cleon Jones, St Louis pitching shut the Mets out for the next twenty innings.
The biggest mound hero in this war of attrition for the Cardinals was Claude Osteen - the thirty-five year old veteran, in his seventeenth major league season. Acquired from the Houston Astros on August 15, Osteen appeared in eight games for the Cardinals in '74 - compiling a 4.37 ERA in 22.2 IP - allowing 14 R - 11 ER.
In other words, aside from this game, Osteen gave up eleven earned runs in 13.1 innings - good for a 7.56 ERA. That makes what he did into the wee hours of Thursday morning all the more remarkable.
For the Mets, Jerry Koosman pitched brilliantly, until being victimized by Reitz' two-out ninth-inning home run. He would be removed after nine innings: 5 H - 3 R - 4 BB - 3 SO - 1 HR
Four New York relievers - Parker (3 IP), Miller (1 IP), Apodaca (3 IP) and Jerry Cram - who worked eight scoreless innings (the 17th through 24th) - did their part to extend this game for more than seven hours.
Then, Hank Webb became the sixth Mets' pitcher used in this game - to start the fateful twenty-fifth-inning. The first batter for St Louis - Bake McBride - reached on an infield single to the shortstop.
The speedy McBride, who stole thirty bases in '74, was no doubt planning to steal one in this situation. However, his lead was overly aggressive. Webb had him picked off - but threw wildly - past first baseman Milner's outstretched glove - down the line in right.
McBride quickly scrambled to his feet - and with a quick glance, knew he could easily reach third on the play. By the time right fielder Staub had retrieved the ball, he realized he had no play on McBride - so he fired a strike to home plate - which the catcher - Ron Hodges, who entered the game just an inning before, somehow let the throw elude his mitt, and failed to get his body in front of the ball, to attempt to block it.
As the ball skipped past Hodges - a shocked McBride scrambled towards home - arms flailing - staggering and falling on top of home plate. He had scored, but at the moment, was too exhausted to move. The batter - an overjoyed Ken Reitz - helped him to his feet - pounding on his back - celebrating the moment - hoping this one run would finally put an end to this madness.
Sonny Siebert, who got the final seven outs of this bizarre game - struck out Milner with a runner on first base in the bottom of inning number 25 - to finally end it.
Rarely do games starting three hours later on the west coast end before games on the east coast - but all those games had long since concluded. It was well past 2 am in New York City. There weren't too many folks still hanging around for the conclusion of this game. The few that stuck it out 'til the end were clearly dumbfounded - but at least they had witnessed a fascinating piece of baseball history.