Jonah Keri saw a lot of Expos games — this one was the weirdest
Fans in attendance likely wouldn't have predicted much excitement — the Expos had spent nearly two months in first place that season but a long slump knocked them into second. Meanwhile, the defending World Series champs weren't faring so well themselves, finishing dead last in runs scored.
The game was just endless. It just kept going and going.- Jonah Keri on the Expos ' 22-inning, 1-0 loss to the Dodgers
But instead of a forgettable encounter, the two teams gave the sports world something to talk about and broke a few records in the process. The game went 22 innings and took an astonishing six hours and 14 minutes to play — making it one of the longest in major league history. And it ended with only a single run scored.
Looking back at a legendary game
Jonah Keri, then a 14-year-old living in Montreal, was at that game.
That epic game loomed so large in his imagination that a few months ago, he pitched his editors on the idea of writing a feature story about it. He went back and watched the tape, interviewed players and did extensive research.
The result is a nearly 4,000-word story that neatly captures what it was like in the stands, and on the field, during one of the "weirdest, most delightful nights" in baseball history.
"My buddy says, 'Let's go to the game!' That was the thing you would do — you would just go, you didn't need tickets. You'd walk up, it'd cost a couple dollars," Keri recalls. "So we go, and the game was just endless. It just kept going and going, and it was 0-0, and the length of it after a while just became surreal and hilarious."
They kind of did him wrong, it was incredibly funny what transpired.- Jonah Keri on Eddie Murray's mounting frustrations
Dodger Eddie Murray had a frustrating game, Keri notes. "We didn't have instant replay back then — now that we're able to watch the clips of this, it's clear bad things happened to him."
Perhaps the worst incident happened in the 18th inning with a runner on first. Murray hit a line drive to right field but was called out on what looked like an incredible catch by Larry Walker. But it was no catch. The ball bounced a foot over Walker's outstretched glove and fell stealthily into the webbing.
"You could see him [Murray] getting angrier and angrier," Keri says. "Once you get the past the fact … they kind of did him wrong, it was incredibly funny what transpired."
Youppi! gets tossed
"He really lost it this night. Youppi! was a very … energetic mascot, very involved," Keri explains. Youppi! is an entertainer, and decides [in the 11th inning] to walk over to the Dodgers' dugout wearing a nightshirt and a nightcap, with a giant pillow.
"Youppi! is making no noise — Lasorda sort of pops his head out and goes, "Hey, you!", except much more colourful than that," Keri continues. "And it starts to escalate. Lasorda turns towards third-base umpire Bob Davidson as if to say, "I am done with this guy, with this orange monstrous fluffball," and Bob Davidson tosses Youppi! out of the game, points to the exit, and says, 'You're gone!' It was incredible physical comedy. And that was sort of the end of that."
As if that wasn't enough, the "preposterous" game also set some records: the Dodgers would go on to draw zero walks in 22 innings, the longest stretch in baseball history. It was also the second-longest scoreless tie in MLB history: 0-0 for 21 innings.
"So you kind of knew something ridiculous was going to happen," Keri says. "It wasn't going to be the superstar who was going to do something heroic — [it was going to be] something strange. So Rick Dempsey comes to the plate … He was a truly awful hitter."
He really lost it this night.- Jonah Keri on Tommy Lasorda's spat with Youppi!
"It was almost anti-climactic at this point — here comes this bad hitter, he hits a home run: 'Oh, great, now the Dodgers have the lead.' And so the game ended, and obviously it was not good that the Dodgers won, but I didn't want the Expos to take the lead, either," Keri admits.
"I wanted it to go 45 innings — I wanted to be there for the longest game in the history of baseball. It didn't quite happen, but that's what stuck with me, was just [how] we were almost gluttons for punishment at that point – we were actively cheering when guys would make outs, that's how ridiculous this game was."
Check out the legendary game — all six-plus hours of it — for yourself:
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