Baines recalls 25-inning marathon ... barely

CHICAGO – On the 30th anniversary of one of the craziest games in Chicago White Sox history, Harold Baines was frowning.

It isn’t as if the quiet Baines didn’t want to talk about the White Sox's marathon affair against the Milwaukee Brewers that began on May 8, 1984, and ultimately ended a day later on his home run in the 25th inning. Baines’ issue: “I don’t remember anything about it.”

As it turns out, Baines -- now the White Sox assistant hitting coach -- could recall a lot more than he was letting on.

“The only details I know is that [Tom] Seaver won both games [a day later],” Baines said. “Obviously I hit the home run in the 25th inning, but I don’t remember anything more than that. Oh, and I remember the error by Randy Ready when they had a three-run lead or something like that.”

Seaver did indeed get both victories. After the teams played 17 innings the previous day, the game was resumed May 9 before the regularly scheduled contest. Seaver was scheduled to start the latter game, but he was brought into the resumed game in the 25th inning.

Baines proceeded to win it a half-inning later with his home run; in the nightcap, Seaver pitched the White Sox to another victory.

So does Baines see another 25-inning game happening again?

“Impossible,” Baines said. “It’s not going to happen again.”

His point is that teams in this era would use position players to pitch rather than extending a reliever as the White Sox did with Juan Agosto, who contributed seven scoreless innings. Position players on the mound mean runs are likely, as was the case in a 14-inning game with the Boston Red Sox on April 16, when infielder Leury Garcia took the loss for the White Sox.

Making Agosto’s 1984 relief outing even more memorable was that his first four innings came on the first day and he pitched three more when the game resumed the following evening.

And using a starter in relief isn’t likely. Well, not one the stature of Seaver, anyway. The White Sox went 11 innings against the Minnesota Twins on April 2 this season, and starter Erik Johnson made his way to the bullpen but never pitched.

Baines’ home run might have come late, but it was timely enough to allow Seaver to pull off the rare double. It also allowed Baines to redeem himself after coming into the at-bat 1-for-9 in the game.

“You didn’t have to bring that up,” Baines said. “For me it’s about wins and losses. I could have gone 0-for-10 as long as we won. But to be a part of history, that was pretty nice.”