Official scorer from baseball's longest game visits Museum
“So does it come up? It comes up when I’m meeting with clients, they ask about the ring. Almost every week it comes up. I can talk about it all day.”
George, 72, began working for the Pawtucket team in 1977 before being named official scorer the following season.
“In the spring of 1977 I wanted to get into baseball. I was practicing law, but I really wanted to get into baseball. I just went into the Pawtucket owner’s office and put my heart on the table and said, ‘I love baseball and I want a job. I’ll push a broom, I’ll sell popcorn, I’ll do whatever you want me to do,’” he remembered. “He thought it was a little crazy but he said, ‘Okay, you can keep statistics for the team in the booth and help out in the press box.’
“The next year the official scorer died, and the club was impressed with me enough to offer me the job.”
Asked for memories of his 15 minutes of fame, George first recalls the temperature that April day it all began.
“The game took place on a Saturday, the night before Easter, it was very cold,” he said. “I think it was 28 degrees when game was first stopped, there were only 19 people left in the stands from the 1,740 when it started, and the bullpen pitchers were burning bats in a metal barrel to stay warm.
“When it was finally suspended in the 32nd inning, I walked into my home and my wife was still sleeping. She then said, ‘What are you doing up so early?’ not realizing I had been gone all night. But I was still excited and my adrenalin was pumping because I knew that I was involved in something big. And that morning I got a call from some baseball fanatic on the West Coast asking if it was true.”
A big league strike was underway when the game resumed on June 23, bringing it even more attention for a baseball-starved fan base.
“They resumed it six weeks later and I got phone calls and letters and notes from all across the country,” George said. “There were over 200 media members covering the resumed game, including representatives from Japan, when there was usually just a couple.”
Because of the uniqueness of the game, George had to improvise his scoring methods when recording the game in his score book by using blue ink for the first 12 innings, red ink for the next 10 frames, and a black pen for innings 23 through 32.
“I’m out of pens at this point,” he said. “I had blue, red on top of that, then black ink on top of that. For the resumption on June 23, I bought a green pen and did that in green.”
Family demands ultimately led to 1981 being George’s final season serving as an official scorer for the Paw Sox, though he did go on to serve for many years as a statistician for the New England Patriots.
“I had a pretty short career as an official scorer,” he said. “I had a mortgage, I had kids, I had a real job, and it was too much. I decided I better take care of my family. But I’ll always have the memories of serving as the official scorer for the longest game in baseball history.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum