On May 31, 1964, I was living in Astoria, still a young boy, and I sat down with the family to watch the Mets play the Giants on WOR-9 in a Sunday doubleheader. The Mets lost the first game quickly 5-3. The second game ended up going 23 innings and seven hours and 23 minutes, the longest game in Shea Stadium history. Yes, the Mets lost. I really only remember one thing clearly from that day, that is that I didn’t get to see the last few innings as I had to go to bed. It was Sunday and I had school the next day. I thought of this over and over again yesterday as I watched the Mets and Marlins make “history” because I’m a lot older now, and there is no one to tell me I have to turn the TV off. And I really wish there had been.
If only there had been an authority figure to stop me from seeing Rick Ankiel keep coming up with the winning run on second and two outs. Or Lucas Duda taking turns showing what happens when he is patient at the plate (he strikes out looking) and when he is not (he strikes out swinging.) Early on it would have been wonderful not to see Matt Harvey walk off the field with the assistant trainer. Later it would have been nice to miss watching poor John Buck dragging himself out to the plate every inning. But instead, with no one in position to stop me, I couldn’t turn it off. It was like watching “The Magic Hour,” you just had to keep watching because you couldn’t believe anyone would air it.
For me this game really started when Marcum and Slowey came in. Up until then it was just another bad game between two horrible teams. But in the thirteenth, when they both came in, a new dance began, called, “can this ever end?” The Marlins hitters hit so many popups to Daniel Murphy it looked like some kind of spring training drill. Their role was to go quickly and quietly so as to provide the foreshadowing we all understood. When this finally ended, they were going to win. And the Mets would put the winning run on second what seemed like every inning but never score. How painful was it to watch? The last time it happened, Marcum came to bat with two outs and a runner on second and everyone on twitter (that includes me) was amped up as he was having some of the best at bats we had seen all day. Marcum, to his credit, fouled out to right field, proving that he is a better pitcher and hitter than Rick Ankiel. That was when I got a text from Jimmy. The message said, “This isn’t Hearns/Hagler, we aren’t watching two great champions go toe to toe.” No we were not.
The game went so long after Marcum came in that Bobby Parnell went out to the bullpen to hang with poor Rob Carson, left alone for hours to reflect on what it’s like to be the kid nobody wants to be left with in the pickup game. So long that Ike Davis was a forgotten hero by the end. What did Ike do? Well, he struck out twice but he also walked, then scored the only Mets run. A walk! That will clearly buy him another month with the team.
How it finally ended doesn’t really matter. Just like all I remember from May 31, 1964, is that I didn’t get to see the whole game, someday all I might remember about this one was that I did.
At least I hope I can forget the rest.