Baseball never had a situation where two teams played to a 24-inning tie and then, in the replay, consumed an additional 16 innings. A total of 40 innings to arrive at a single game result. Fact, not fantasy.
For Irv Hall, a second baseman for the Philadelphia A's, it became an unforgettable afternoon . . . and evening. On July 21, 1945, instead of facing the Detroit Tigers, he was prepared to enter the U.S. Army.
Doctors at the induction station in Philadelphia said they couldn't accept him because he had a leg ailment. So, not knowing what to do, he headed for Shibe Park and arrived with only minutes to spare.
"I believe Connie Mack, our manager, thought he was looking at a ghost," said Hall, now 76 and living in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County. "The day before he wished me luck and promised we'd see each other when the war was over."
But when Mack saw Hall enter the dugout, dressed to play, he he erased the name of the replacement second baseman and wrote in Hall.
Little did anyone realize Hall hadn't been to bed and that all he had to eat were two hot dogs and a soda, which he bought at the concession stand on his dash to the locker room.
The night before, Hall didn't bother to go to bed because he was scheduled to report to the induction station before 6 a.m. He figured there was no reason for sleep in what was to be his last night as a civilian. A chance meeting with two Cleveland Indians, Mickey Rocco and Jeff Heath, led to an evening of dinner, beer drinking and talking about the American League pennant race.
Hours later, Hall tried to talk draft board physicians into accepting him.
"I kept saying if I could play big-league baseball, I sure was able to carry a pack in the army," he said. "But the doctors insisted they were giving the orders -- not me."
Hall and the A's had played a doubleheader on Friday against the Indians, then had the 24-inning marathon with the Tigers on Saturday and met the Tigers again in another doubleheader Sunday afternoon. That adds up to 60 innings of baseball, or the equivalent of 6 1/2 games in less than 48 hours.
Philadelphia won the replay of Saturday's game several weeks later but was extended 16 innings to do it. Roberto Estalella doubled in the winning run in a 3-2 game. Finally, there was a result to be posted.
It was not the longest game in baseball history -- the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves played 26 innings on May 1, 1920. But after a half-century, major-league baseball has never had anything to compare to the grand total of 40 innings to decide a winner, or to a player going 24 innings without sleep and only two hot dogs and a soft drink for sustenance.
"I remember in an early inning of the long game, I was the pivot man on a double play and Dick Seibert, our first baseman, was almost begging for me to get rid of the ball after I made the force at second," Hall said. "I was so wiped out I just couldn't get much on the throw, but I still got it there in time to get the second out."
Hall's salary that year was $4,500 -- no overtime clause -- but Mack rewarded him with a $1,500 bonus for "playing hard."
Obviously, Hall was built for durability and wasn't easily discouraged. He wasn't considered good enough to make his Polytechnic High School team but spent six years in the minors and six more in the American League.
Hall wanted a college degree and, after his baseball career, spent 27 years of part-time study at Johns Hopkins University before graduating in engineering. He was employed at the Glenn L. Martin Co., and traveled the world working in the Mace Missile program.
"Why it took me so long to get through Hopkins, in bits and pieces, was because we had four children and I had to work during the day," he said.
Next Saturday, he and his wife, Mary Rose, will celebrate 40 years of marriage.
As for the 24-inning game, Hall got two hits in 11 at-bats against Les Mueller and Paul "Dizzy" Trout. Philadelphia pitched Russ Cristopher for 13 innings and Joe Berry worked the rest of the way.
Mueller, the Tigers starter, pitched 19 1/2 innings. The scoring, what there was of it, came in the A's fourth and the Tigers seventh.