Imagine squatting for eight hours. That’s what Rochester Red Wings catcher Dave Huppert did on an April night at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium more than 35 years ago, when he was behind the plate for 31 innings of the longest professional baseball game ever played. The contest took 33 innings over the course of two days and a total of 8 hours and 25 minutes of playing time to resolve. Ultimately, the Pawtucket Red Sox won 3-2, though by that point, hardly anyone cared.
All but one inning of the game was played on the night of April 18, 1981 and into the early morning hours of April 19. Wade Boggs was one of a number of notable future major league players on the field that night, infamously driving in the tying run in the bottom of the 21st inning, inexplicably extending play when all anyone really wanted to do was go home. Players and the 19 fans remaining in the stands finally called it a night at 4:07am, when the umpires suspended play in the 32nd inning.
The game resumed with a much larger crowd gathered a month and a half later on June 23. Pawtucket first baseman Dave Koza rather anticlimactically ended the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the 33rd, just 18 minutes after play had resumed.
For Koza, it turned out to be the highlight of his career: he played 10 years in the Red Sox organization, but never got into a big league game. But for a AAA game played in front of a sparse crowd on a chilly April night, the Longest Game wound up having quite an impressive pedigree: in addition to Boggs, fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. was at third base for Rochester, and future Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett scored the winning run for Pawtucket. Other notable “survivors” of the game included pitchers Bruce Hurst and Bob Ojeda and catcher Rich Gedman, now a coach for the PawSox.