Speaking of extra innings …
I’m a baseball fan, plain and simple. That should be obvious given the nature of my job. If I loved about writing about city hall or real estate, well, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. As the saying goes, you write what you know. I think you write what you’re passionate about as well.
One of the best aspects of my job is I get to hear some great old baseball stories on occasion, not so much from the players — as most of them are all younger than me, meaning that their “old” stories date back to, say, 2002.
Manager Bud Black has good stories and since I grew up a Mariners fan, I’m a little partial to his old stories about his brief stint coming up with the Mariners. Bud, like myself, spent time growing up in the Pacific Northwest, so that opens itself to more stories, none that any of the other reporters care hearing about.
Anyway, we were talking about the Padres’ 22-inning game the other night at PETCO and Bud mentions that his Major League debut in 1981 nearly game in the continuation of such a long game. Here’s the setup:
It was Sept. 3 and the Mariners were in Boston. I assume that Black, 24, was added to the Mariners roster after the rosters expanded on Sept. 1. Of course, the Mariners were pretty awful that season, which was, oddly enough, cut short by a work stoppage. Not even a split-season format could save the Mariners from an ugly season that saw them fire Maury Wills and replace him with Rene Lachemann.
So the Mariners are playing the Red Sox team that wasn’t very special, as they finished fifth in their division with the likes of a young Rich Gedman, Carney Lansford and 41-year-old Carl Yastrzemski. Oddly enough, Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffman was on that team.
So the Mariners and Red Sox, in what was an otherwise meaningless game, decide to play extra innings, after Boston scored three time in the ninth inning off relievers Shane Rawley, Dick Drago and Bryan Clark.
So the game goes to extra innings and is eventually suspended at 2 a.m. after the end of the 19th inning. That’s where things get interesting for Black. Before leaving that night for the team hotel, Lachemann tells Black he’s starting when the game resumes the next day.
That’s right: Black’s Major League debut would be at Fenway Park. So Black goes back to the team hotel, likely makes a few phone calls to family and such to inform them of the good news. He doesn’t sleep much, though, as he recalled.
So Black gets to Fenway the next day only to be told by Lachemann that “I changed my mind … you’re not pitching.”
The Mariners score a run in the top of the 20th inning on an RBI triple by Joe Simpson. In the bottom of the inning, Mariners reliever Jerry Don Gleaton and Jim Beattie combine to keep the Red Sox scoreless and the Mariners win, 8-7.
As for Black, he would make his Major League debut a few days later, oddly enough, against the same Red Sox in the Kingdome. He uncorked a wild pitch before allowing a RBI single to Rick Miller. He was then replaced.
Anyway, fun story. And had the Mariners not traded Black to the Royals in 1982 for infielder Manny Castillo — yep, that worked out really well — we might have even more stories to kick around. Yes, it’s a real shame.