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The longest games in Mets history

The Mets and Cardinals played 18 innings and almost six hours on Sunday. Here are some Mets games that were even longer.

Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images

So, you think that 18-inning game against the Cardinals was really long Sunday at five hours, 55 minutes? You must be new around here. The Mets have had quite a penchant for these marathon length games throughout their history. Here are eight more games of 18 innings or longer.  Five involved the same player, Rusty Staub.

May 31, 1964: Giants 8, Mets 6, 23 innings, Time 7:23
(Box ScoreFurther Reading)

Back in the days of regular Sunday doubleheaders, this was the second game of a twin bill at Shea. It was a sweep for the Giants. Combined, the two games took 9:52, 10:20 if you add in the break between games. The Mets rallied from 6-1 down, but had no offense in extra innings. Gaylord Perry pitched 10 shutout innings for the win. The Mets turned Orlando Cepeda's line drive to shortstop into a triple play in the 14th. Just another weird day in the history of the early Mets.

April 15, 1968: Astros 1, Mets 0, 24 innings, Time 6:06
(Box ScoreFurther Reading)

An ordinary Monday night in mid-April became remarkable at the Astrodome when the Mets and Astros went scoreless for 23 innings, which is still a record for zeroes in a game. Houston won in the 24th when Mets' shortstop Al Weis booted a double play grounder with the bases loaded. Jon Springer wrote in this SABR profile about losing pitcher Les Rohr, "The bad hop on that play led to a change where ground crews would drag the infield every seven innings, regardless of how long the game lasted." Weis went on to be a World Series hero for the Mets in 1969, so all is forgiven. Rusty Staub played for the Astros in this game.

September 11, 1974: Cardinals 4, Mets 3, 25 innings, Time 7:04
(Box ScoreFurther Reading)

The Mets were ahead in this one 3-1 at Shea until the Cards scored two in the ninth to tie, and on the two teams went. Bake McBride scored the winning run in the 25th on an extremely strange play. According to the game report:

McBride was picked off first but was safe on an error by Webb [McBride scored (error by Hodges) (unearned)]; wild throw on pickoff; 2B umpire Bob Engel called a balk but a recent rule change allowed advances on an overthrow; previously ball was dead on a balk unless it was put in play

The game ended at 3:13 in the morning. The Mets stranded 25 runners on base, which stood alone as a team record until they tied it on Sunday. It is the longest game in MLB history in terms of innings in a game played to a decision without a delay or suspension. Rusty Staub pinch hit for the Mets in the 24th inning in this one. Not to be outdone, the Yankees played a combined total of 26 innings in a doubleheader that same night.

July 4, 1985: Mets 16, Braves 13, 19 innings, Time 6:10 (Real Time, 8:15)
(Box Score | Further Reading)

This game is legendary. Davey Johnson has an ingenious plan to pitch Dwight Gooden on three days' rest against a bad Braves team so he can pitch three times before the All-Star break. Two hours of rain delays foil that plan, and Doc leaves in the third inning. The field is so wet, it's completely ridiculous. It's like a giant Slip ‘N Slide.

Braves' pitcher Rick Camp hits a home run with two outs and two strikes off Tom Gorman in the 18th to tie the game at 11-11. Gorman is so tired, he thinks he's pitching to Gene Garber.

Hernandez: "Stumbling back to the dugout after the next guy grounds out, Gorman mumbles, ‘I didn't know Garber had that kind of power.' Garber?! Tom didn't even know who was batting! Long night."

And more:

"Garber was pitching before Camp, and they both had beards," said Gorman. "So I'm batting in like the 15th inning, and (Garber) gets me out, and then I come back up again in the 17th and I thought it was still Garber.

"So (Camp) strikes me out, and I go back to the dugout and I look at Hernandez, and I say, 'I'll tell you what, Garber is throwing gas this inning.' He stops me and goes, 'You stupid idiot, that's not Garber, that's Camp.' Things were a little fuzzy at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning."

Camp is giddy and can't concentrate on pitching. He gives up five runs to the Mets in the 19th. Rusty Staub pinch hits and is intentionally walked. Ron Darling enters the game in relief in the bottom of the 19th and gives up two runs. Camp comes up as the tying run again, but strikes out to end the game at 3:55 in the morning. The July 4 fireworks are set off at 4:01, scaring Atlanta residents to death. This Daily News article has great details about a Shriners' convention at the hotel that kept the Mets awake the night before, and the team's revenge on the Shriners when the players returned to the hotel early in the morning after the game. The article also says Roger McDowell ate seven cheeseburgers from the time he left the game until the time it finished. Congratulations Roger!!!!

MLB really should make this complete game available on DVD. It's one of a kind.

April 28th, 1985: Mets 5, Pirates 4, 18 innings, Time 5:21
(Box ScoreFurther Reading)

41 years old and overweight, Rusty Staub has to play the outfield in an emergency. He switches positions with Clint Hurdle 11 times between left field and right field to try to avoid having the ball hit to him. In the top of the 18th, Rick Rhoden, a pitcher who was pinch hitting for the Pirates, hits it to him anyway, but Rusty makes the running catch. Here's the video:

The Mets win on a ground ball by Hurdle that Jason Thompson, the Pirates' first baseman, allowed to go through his legs.

May 24, 1973: Mets 7, Dodgers 3, 19 innings, Time 5:42
(Box Score)

The Mets and the Dodgers were tied at three until Rusty Staub's RBI double started a four-run top of the 19th. The Mets won 7-3, but that game timed out at 5:42, 13 minutes shorter than Sunday's game. Rusty Staub couldn't get enough of these marathon games. Enough is enough, Rusty.

Here are two games of more recent vintage that you probably remember:

April 17, 2010: Mets 2, Cardinals 1, 20 innings, Time 6:53
(Box Score)

June 8, 2013: Marlins 2, Mets 1, 20 innings, Time 6:25
(Box Score)

This doesn't even count the epic 16-inning NLCS win in Houston in 1986, and the 15-inning NLCS victory against the Braves in 1999. So, fellow Mets fans, my advice is that you invest in some comfy chairs. Marathon games are in the Mets DNA. Best be prepared in the future. It might help prevent this type of thing from happening, though, if Rusty Staub doesn't watch.

I'd like to acknowledge that Zac Vierra wrote a very similar article on Tumblr in the last few days. Check it out here.