August 12, 1984
30th Anniversary of the ‘Bean Brawl Game’
The slugfest arguably started with the first pitch of the game. Braves’ pitcher Pascual Perez beans Padres’ leadoff hitter, Alan Wiggins. The benches would clear for the first time in the second inning when San Diego pitching throws behind Perez’ head. The Padres continued to throw at poor Perez every time he took to the plate, resulting in brawls in the fifth, eighth and ninth inning. It’s a good thing this game didn’t go into extras.
A boy plays baseball on a corner of a busy street intersection in Havana. Like many Latin American countries, Cubans are very passionate about baseball. Due to a lack of access to goods like baseballs, bats and mitts, kids will go out on the streets to use whatever they can get their hands on, including sticks to replace bats, or rolled up tape and rocks to replace balls. Baseball was brought to Cuba in the 1860s and still remains of the most popular remnants of American culture on the island until this day.
Photo via Andrew Seng
Last night I stayed up way past my bed time to watch the conclusion of the 19-inning ordeal that was the Red Sox and Angels game. Between the two clubs, 18 pitchers were used for a combined total of 558 pitches. Clay Buchholz hurled the most of any pitcher in the game at 120. By today’s standards, 120 pitches is an admirable outing - more than your average output by a starter.
And tonight the Tigers and Jays battled a 19-inning opera of their own. Melky Cabrera reached base 8 times, making him the first to do so since Rod Carew in 1972. 16 (eight per team) pitchers combined for a total of 629 tosses. That’s a lot of Baseball.
But let’s go back almost a century to a Saturday afternoon in 1920. It was the first of May when the Boston Braves hosted the Brooklyn Robins. What neither team expected, nor the 4,500-some fans in attendance (according to Baseball Reference), was that they’d be prying themselves from their seats 26 innings later.
Joe Oeschger (Boston, pronounced “Eshker”) and Leon Cadore (Brooklyn) pitched all 26 innings for what ended in a 1-1 tie. The game was ultimately called because it simply became too dark. The players protested and asked to play one more inning so that they could say they played three full games.
What makes this game truly remarkable is not the length but the constitution of the pitchers. Cadore reportedly faced 96 hitters. throwing mostly curves. Oeschger, a fastball pitcher, battled 90 Brooklyn batters. If each pitcher averaged 3 pitches per batter (which in my opinion is erring on the conservative side) they’d have thrown close to 300 pitches each.
When the game was finally called at 6:50 in the evening, no one cared to ask either manager why they let the pitch counts run so high. 1920 was simply a different time for Baseball. The feat of throwing 300 pitches just didn’t seem as incredible at the time. The New York Times waited until the ninth paragraph to mention either of the pitchers in the story they ran on the game. They chose, instead, to talk about the weary fans with feelings that the game would last an eternity.
The report on the game did however shed an interesting light on the fortitude of each pitcher. “Instead of showing any signs of weakening under the strain, each of them appeared to grow stronger. In the final six innings neither artist allowed even the shadow of a safe single.” As more and more innings were put behind them, each pitcher grew increasingly determined to best the other. Cadore would later remark that if he had been taken out of the game he would have “strangled” Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson.
Afterwards, neither pitcher threw for a week. Cadore claimed he couldn’t even lift his arm high enough to comb his hair, while Oeschger said he slept for 36 hours that night.
A performance as remarkable as the 26 inning marathon will never happen again. Oeschger and Cadore are a breed far different from pitchers today just as the game itself is a different contest than it was in 1920. The early days of Baseball were a wacky time without pitch counts or lights. But a lot of incredible things happened back then.
Ken Williams wasn’t even sure whether to get on the plane. The Chicago White Sox liked Jose Abreu, but they also knew they weren’t alone…
I’ve always wondered about scouting in Cuba.
"I have a lifetime of great memories of Boston highlighted by 2 World Championships! Boston will always be home and the love that Red Sox Nation has shown me is something I will forever cherish. You are truly the best fans in the world! I have been blessed to play with the greatest teammates who are family to me. I want to thank the Staff, Front Office and Ownership for always showing me respect and supporting me during the difficult times. This organization, the fans and this city have embraced my family and me. My wife, my children and I will always be grateful for the love and kindness that we have enjoyed in Boston. Thank y’all.
With all our love,
Jon and Farrah, Hudson, Walker and the Lester family.
Jon Lester’s full page ad in the Boston Globe. Seems both players dealt to the Athletics were grateful of their time in Boston. Lester and Gomes will always be missed, although I don’t believe this is the last time we’ve seen Lester in a Red Sox uniform.
Thank you Gomes.
It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has overcome so much himself and done so much for a city, especially when they’ve held a special place in your heart for so long. And despite all the mental and emotional preparation I’ve been putting myself through this past week, it doesn’t hurt any less now that you’ve been traded.
It was no secret that you loved it here, and if the last few days were any indication, it’s no secret that everyone here loved you too. You gave us incredible stuff on the field, with two championship trophies, a no-hitter, and a handful of trips to the all-star game to show for it, and you changed lives off the field with all of your charity work and kindness. Your dedication and perseverance are an inspiration to so many people.
Good luck in Oakland, my favorite bubble-blowing ace. I only hope you find your way back to Boston. It will always be your home.
Thank you for everything.
|—||Jon Lester with the trade deadline approaching quickly.|