A Lengthy Mid-Summer Night Game Won on a Homer By a Future Hall of Famer

Joseph DelGrippoAnalyst IAugust 10, 2009

NEW YORK - AUGUST 08:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Boston Red Sox during their game on August 8, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Two teams going at it for 15 innings with zeroes down the line. Two great lineups with future HOFers and former MVP's.

But there were two equally as effective, and downright dominating, starters who went toe to toe, keeping those potent lineups at bay.

The game finally ended late with a home run off the bat of a future Hall of Famer, winning the game with a walk-off blast for the home team.

Friday night's Yankee-Red Sox game won on an Alex Rodriguez two-run home run? Nope.

We are talking about the epic 16 inning contest between the Milwaukee Braves and San Francisco Giants on July 2, 1963 at Candlestick Park, which ended on a Willie Mays one-out, solo HR in the bottom of the 16th. 

The big difference between Friday night's Red Sox-Yankees game and the game 46 years ago is while the most recent game used 14 pitchers, the game 46 years ago used two.

Both starters, Juan Marichal of the Giants and Warren Spahn of the Braves went the distance. When the game ended it was 16 innings (and the win) for the Dominican Dandy and 15.1 innings (and the loss) for the 42-year old Spahn.

No bullpen needed, no lefty on lefty match-ups, no strategy sessions between manager and pitching coach.

Marichal faced 59 batters, allowed seven hits, struck out 10 and walked four. He has said he threw 227 pitches in the contest. Spahn likely threw a far fewer amount because he only struck out two and walked one. He faced 56 batters and allowed only nine hits.

True iron men indeed!

Marichal also said that manager Alvin Dark came out in the ninth, 10th and 15th innings in an attempt to remove him from the game.

In a recent interview, the 25 year old Marichal recalled the last meeting on the mound,  “I told Dark in the 15th, ‘I’m not leaving while that old guy is still on the mound.’ I remember I kept telling myself, ‘Okay just one more inning.’ I just didn’t want to leave before him. I didn’t want that old man lasting longer than me. But he was incredible, and I wound up staying there a lot longer than I thought I would.”

Marichal's performance scored a Game Score of 112, the highest Game Score for any pitcher in the Post WWII era.

Both games are epic (how many times will we see the most recent contest on the YES network this off season?), having extended into the early morning hours of the next day, giving the remaining fans hope that their team will win.

After Mays' homer, the game finally had a winner, but the real winners were the two iron men who dueled it out for 15+ innings each. With the prevalence of intense media scrutiny, agents overseeing that their pitchers aren't "overworked," Baseball Prospectus article such as this and Tom Verducci writing his yearly anti-pitching article, games like the Marichal-Spahn duel will never occur again.

Baseball Prospectus actually updated their findings five years later.

Both Marichal's and Spahn's intense will, determination, refusal to be removed, and ability to throw strikes led to their success that summer night in San Francisco, as well as their eternal success in reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame.

They also are recognized as one of the greatest mano-y-mano pitching match-ups in baseball history.

It would have been great if AJ Burnett (7.2 IP, 118 P) and Josh Beckett (7 IP, 115 P) did the same, but they didn't.

In addition to Marichal and Spahn, even Austin Wood is laughing.