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Mets not a stranger to marathons
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Forsyth County News
It’s always fun to check in on the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Incorporated. Since beginning play in 1962, the Mets have rarely, if ever, done things in a conventional manner.

The last few years have been no exception, as the Mets managed to do less with more than any team in baseball. Only the Mets could take baseball’s top pitcher, wrap Johan Santana in a Mets uniform, and watch him perform like Chuck James.

Saturday, Santana toted his 1-1 record and hefty 4.91 era out to the mound in St. Louis as his 3-7 Mets tried to keep lowering expectations.
Surprise! Santana shut out the Cards through seven innings. No surprise! The Mets couldn’t manage more than a single hit against the immortal Jaime Garcia.

The teams remained locked in a scoreless duel when it came time to switch to the Braves and watch Ubaldo Jiminez baffle the locals. At 9:41, Jiminez completed the very first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history.

Which begged the question: which team has played the longest without recording a no-hitter? Why, that would be the Mets, of course. Now in their 49th season, the Mets have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter. Hey-wonder how their game turned out?

Lo and behold, after five and a half hours, the Mets and Cards were still at it. And still scoreless.             

The contest finally broke up at 11:03, with the Mets winning, 2-1, in 20 innings. Time of game: 6:53. Wild stuff, yes. But by Mets standards, no big deal.

On May 31, 1964, a Memorial Day throng of 57,037 stuffed brand-new Shea Stadium for a doubleheader against the Giants. The Giants won the opener, 5-3, as ace Juan Marichal ran his record to 8-1.

The Giants completed the sweep with an 8-6 win in the nightcap. Nightcap, you bet. The game lasted 23 innings and a MLB record 7 hours and 23 minutes. That made the twin bill a record 9 hour, 52 minute endurance test. By the time the teams finished playing at 11:25, they had set a record for most innings played in a single day, 32.

The game ended with the Giants’ Gaylord Perry (10 innings) and the Mets’ Galen Cisco (9) each coming on to pitch a complete game in relief.

The Mets topped that performance on April 15, 1968, by going 24 innings before losing to the Astros, 1-0. That remains the MLB record for the longest scoreless game. Tom Seaver started for the Mets, and allowed one single hit through nine innings. But the Mets couldn’t get him a single run.

The only run scored when Bob Aspromonte hit a ground ball through the legs of Mets shortstop Al Weis, who usually played second. “I just plain blew it,” Weis told Joe Durso of the New York Times.

That winning run was scored by Norm Miller, who broke an 0-for-14 skid with a single to lead of the bottom of the 24th. Miller took second on a balk by Les Rohr, and took third on Rusty Staub’s groundout.

The Mets managed to top that contest on September 12, 1975, against the Cardinals. On that special night, it took 7 hours, 4 minutes, and 25 innings for the Cards to beat the Mets, 4-3.

The first pitch was thrown by the Mets’ Jerry Koosman at 8:00 pm. Sonny Siebert of the Cards threw the final pitch at 3:14 am.

About a thousand faithful from a crowd of 13,460 remained when Hank Webb, the Mets final pitcher, tried to pick Bake McBride off first base. Webb hurled the ball down the first base line, and catcher Ron Hodges bobbled the ensuing relay as MeBride mercifully scored.

“It was a good crowd,” Mets vice-president James K. Thompson told Durso. “It amazes me that people stay that late. At three in the morning, you had a chant of ‘Let’s Go Mets!’ You didn’t have it by many people, but you had it.”

“It feels bad,” Mets manager Yogi Berra told Durso. “If you play 25 innings and win, you feel a lot better than when you play 25 and lose.”

No one felt worse than Ed Sudol. The home plate umpire called every pitch to a record 202 batters, and moaned to Durso, “Why does it always happen to me?”

Incredibly, Sudol was the home plate umpire for that game in the Astrodome in 1968. Even more incredibly, he was also behind the plate for game two of the doubleheader with the Giants in 1964. That’s 72 innings in just three games if you’re counting.

Of course, it had to be the Mets in town on that memorable Fourth of July in 1985. That was the night that Braves pitcher Rick Camp hit his only Major League home run to tie the game in the bottom of the 18th inning.

The Mets finally won, 16-13, at 3:55 a.m., at which time the Braves, as promised, ignited their July 4th fireworks, alarming the surrounding citizenry.

But this really wasn’t much of a game by Mets standards. It only went 19 innings.