Baines’ blast ends longest game in AL history

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

When Harold Baines stepped into the batter’s box for his 10th at-bat of the game, 752 pitches had been thrown over the course of two days at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

On the 753rd pitch, Baines ended the longest game in American League history with a home run into the center field bullpen, giving the White Sox a 7-6, 25-inning win over the Brewers on May 9, 1984.

“Winning the game is my only goal,” Baines told the Associated Press.

After one hit and two walks in his first 11 plate appearances of the game, Baines did just that.

The contest started on May 8 but was suspended after 18 innings due to the American League rule that stated that an inning could not begin after 1 a.m. local time.

The next night, Baines’ homer made a winner out of Tom Seaver, who pitched the top of the 25th and then started the regularly scheduled game – working 8.1 innings and picking up another victory.

“The thing that impressed me about that long game was that both clubs kept playing hard,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa told the Associated Press. “It’s the first time I’ve managed a suspended game, and I couldn’t get it off my mind when I went home last night. I hope I don’t have to go through that again.”

At eight hours and six minutes, the game marked the longest elapsed time for a game in big league history, breaking the mark of seven hours, 23 minutes set in a 23-inning game between the Mets and the Giants on May 31, 1964. The former American League record for innings played was 24, set in Sept. 1, 1906 in a Philadelphia vs. Boston matchup and tied on July 21, 1945, by the Athletics and Tigers.

The longest game in big league history – measured by innings – was a 26-inning affair between Brooklyn and Boston on May 1, 1920.

Baines high-fived his teammates following his game-winning home run, a rare show of emotion from a player whose workmanlike demeanor won him praise from opponents, fans and members of his own team.

“Hank Aaron was like that through most of his career,” said Roland Hemond, who was the White Sox’s general manager in 1984 and who spent several years overseeing the Braves farm system while Aaron was playing in Milwaukee. “Nobody paid attention to him until he reached 600 home runs.

“They just go out and do their work.”

Baines finished his 22-year big league career with a .289 batting average, 384 home runs and 1,628 RBI.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series