May 28, 1964: Jim Maloney’s double-double not enough as Reds settle for 17-inning tie with Dodgers

This article was written by Larry DeFillipo

Jim Maloney (THE TOPPS COMPANY)More than one football coach has used the adage “A tie is just like kissing your sister.”1 On May 28, 1964, the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers must’ve felt the same, after their 17-inning, 4-hour and 58-minute marathon at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field ended in a 2-2 tie.

This was the longest game of the 1964 season – until three days later when the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets one-upped them with a 23-inning affair. (The Giants won, 8-6.) At least the Giants and Mets got closure. The Reds and Dodgers were left to stew over what might’ve been.

The season hadn’t been kind to the defending World Series champion Dodgers. By May 28 they were five games below .500 and in eighth place, leading only the expansion New York Mets and Houston Colts. Not enough hitting and adversity triggered by too many injuries to key players were to blame.2 Sandy Koufax had torn a forearm muscle in April, followed by injuries to three more Dodgers soon after in a game in Milwaukee N.L batting champ Tommy Davis (jammed shoulder), starter Johnny Podres (hit by a pitch in the elbow), and fireman3 Ron Perranoski (pulled quadriceps).4

The Reds, fifth-place finishers in ’63, had entered the offseason with lofty expectations. Blossoming stars Pete Rose (1963 NL Rookie of the Year) and Leo Cardenas, together with ’63 NL hits leader Vada Pinson, former MVP Frank Robinson, and All-Star Johnny Edwards, gave Cincinnati a formidable lineup. The Reds’ offense, in tandem with rotation mainstays Jim Maloney, Jim O’Toole, John Tsitouris, and Joe Nuxhall, made them pennant contenders, The Sporting News predicted.5

Then a thunderclap. In January, manager Fred Hutchinson was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He underwent a two-month treatment program, then returned to the team during spring training. The 44-year-old Hutchinson bravely carried out his duties as manager but was wasting away as the season progressed.6

The Reds could generate no momentum and sat in sixth place, two games above .500, coming into their May 28 home game. They’d won the first two games of their three-game series with LA. Bob Purkey outdueled Don Drysdale in the series opener on May 26. Nuxhall tossed a 1-0 shutout against Koufax and the listless Dodgers offense a day later.

The series finale pitted Reds ace Maloney, five days before his 24th birthday, against the Dodgers’ Phil Ortega. Maloney had won 23 for the Reds in 1963, with six shutouts and 265 strikeouts (second only to Koufax), but despite a 2.37 ERA, was 3-5 and coming off his shortest start of the year, a three-inning loss to the Cubs. Ortega had taken Podres’ place in the Dodger rotation in May and had gone 3-2, with two shutouts and a 2.38 ERA.

Clearing rain with temperatures in the 50s greeted a crowd of 7,772 as they arrived for an 8 P.M. start. Each team filled its lineup with regulars, the Reds using the lefty half of their first-base platoon, Gordy Coleman, against the righty Ortega.

Both pitchers sailed through the first three innings, Maloney striking out six and Ortega allowing no baserunners. Maloney walked Junior Gilliam to start the fourth inning and Dodgers hopes rose when Tommy Davis hit a 1-and-0 pitch to the right side. But the ball hit Gilliam, who was called out, with Davis awarded first base. Ron Fairly singled to center, moving Davis to third, but the threat ended when Maloney struck out Frank Howard and got John Roseboro on a liner to shortstop.

Ortega gave up his first hit in the fifth, Cardenas’s two-out single. After Edwards walked, Steve Boros stroked a hit to center field. A perfect throw from center fielder Willie Davis gunned down Cardenas at the plate.7 The game stayed scoreless.

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the seventh on shortstop Cardenas’s error, a single by Willie Davis, and a walk to lefty Wally Moon, pinch-hitting for Dick Tracewski. Manager Walt Alston sent up rookie Wes Parker to bat for Ortega. “It’s unusual to take out a pitcher that early but the way we’ve been scoring runs we have to take him out and try for a run,” Alston said later.8 The gamble didn’t pay off. Parker hit into a force out at home and Maury Wills grounded out for the third out.9

In the bottom of the seventh, the Reds put runners on first and third against Bob Miller,10 but Boros grounded into a rally-killing double play. Gilliam singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch in the eighth, but was stranded when Howard was fanned by Maloney, his 11th strikeout of the game.11 Both sides went down in order in the ninth. The game went into extra innings scoreless.

A single by pinch-hitter Lee Walls and speedster Maury Wills’s sacrifice gave LA a runner in scoring position in the 10th but Maloney, who’d never pitched past the ninth inning in the majors, denied them once again. He had a quick inning in the 11th, needing only eight pitches to retire the side. The Reds went quietly in both the 10th and 11th for Perranoski, who’d replaced Miller.

Maloney took the mound in the 12th having thrown 152 pitches. Johnny Werhas, now playing third base for LA, lined a double to right field. Maloney fielded a sacrifice bunt by Perranoski and threw a bullet to third base – but nobody was there. The ball rolled into the bullpen and Werhas trotted home with the Dodgers’ first run. “It was all my fault,” Maloney admitted later. “The ball wasn’t six inches out of my hand when I saw Steve [Boros, third baseman], standing right behind me, ready to field the bunt.”12

Another sacrifice, this one fielded cleanly by Maloney, moved Perranoski to second. After a walk to Gilliam, Tommy Davis grounded a single to left, scoring Perranoski. Maloney’s night was over. He stormed to the dugout, slammed his hat on the ground and his glove at the wall, and kicked the water cooler.13 Unburdened but still unhappy, Maloney dressed in his street clothes and watched the rest of the game from a seat in the stands.14

Bill Henry came in and put out the fire. After inducing Fairly to ground out to first, he filled the bases by intentionally walking Ken McMullen, who’d replaced Howard in right, then retired Roseboro on a fly out to center field. The Dodgers now led, 2-0.

Three outs from victory, Perranoski had no better luck in the 12th than Maloney. Pinson doubled, and Robinson followed with an infield single. Cardenas scored Pinson with a line-drive single to right field. Edwards tied the game with a single to center, scoring Robinson. Perranoski intentionally walked Boros to load the bases. Veteran Hal Smith, batting for Henry, hit a comebacker to Perranoski, who threw home to Roseboro, starting an inning-ending double play.15 The score was even, 2-2.

The last few innings were like the final rounds of a prizefight before a split decision, each team taking turns pinning the other on the ropes, then failing to deliver the finishing blow. In the 14th, Perranoski allowed two hits, then once again intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases. With the infield drawn in, shortstop Wills backhanded Boros’s grounder and forced Robinson at home. A comebacker from pinch-hitter Bob Skinner ended the threat.

The Dodgers responded by loading the bases in the 15th. Gilliam’s groundout snuffed out that opportunity. In the bottom of the 15th, Tommy Harper reached third with two outs on a walk, a stolen base, and a wild pitch but was left stranded when a leaping Gilliam snared Deron Johnson’s liner.16

After Robinson walked leading off the 16th, Cardenas cracked a line drive to deep left field. Davis ran up “the terrace”17 and made a desperation leap, crashing into the fence as he made the catch. Robinson scrambled back to first to avoid getting doubled up, and Dodgers reliever Jim Brewer escaped further damage.18 Davis had saved the day for LA.

Now well past midnight, the game entered the 17th inning. NL curfew rules forbade starting an after 12:50 A.M. This would be the last inning.

Nineteen-year-old Billy McCool retired the first two Dodger hitters, then walked Werhas. Up stepped 22-year-old Jeff Torborg for his first major-league at-bat.19 On McCool’s second pitch to Torborg, he uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Werhas to advance to third. Torborg worked a full count before grounding out to end the inning.

The Reds had one last chance. Facing Nick Willhite, Harper drew his third walk. With two out, Johnson doubled to left, Harper stopping at third. Yet again the Dodgers intentionally walked a batter (Robinson) to load the bases. Yet again, it worked. The next batter, Cardenas, grounded out to end the inning.

Now about 1 A.M.,20 the game was over, tied 2-2. “I’ve never been as tired as I am now,” declared Reds catcher Edwards.21 As if it had never happened, the game was replayed as part of a June 21 doubleheader.

The Dodgers finished the season in sixth place. The Reds came in one game behind the pennant-winning Cardinals, their title hopes crushed when they were drubbed by the Phillies, 10-0, in the 163rd game of their season.22 Fred Hutchinson died on November 12.23



In addition to the Sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted the Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org websites for pertinent material and the box scores noted below.





1 Equating disappointing outcomes to kissing one’s sister dates back at least to the late nineteenth century; a syndicated columnist wrote in 1892 that “reading a typewritten letter from your sweetheart is like kissing your sister.” The first apparent use of the phrase with regard to a tie in a sporting event was the Naval Academy football team coach, Edgar “Rip” Miller, in reference to why he hadn’t tried for a game-tying field goal against Army on November 30, 1946. Michigan State coach Duffy Dougherty is most widely cited for having used the adage after Michigan State’s 10-10 tie with number-1 ranked Notre Dame on November 19, 1966, a match referred to at that time as the “Game of the Century.” “Observations. From Kate Field’s Washington,” The Times-Philadelphia, April 3, 1892: 14; Al Abrams, “Sidelights on Sports,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 5, 1946: 19; https://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/michigan-state/spartans/2016/09/11/game-of-the-century/90220500/.

2 Bob Hunter, “Dodgers Elevate Moeller, Ortega to Starter Jobs,” The Sporting News, May 23, 1964: 12.

3 In the role we now call closer, Perranoski led the Dodgers with 21 saves in 1963 and earned a save in Game Two of the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees.

4 Bob Hunter, “Dodgers Shuck Sickly Pallor as Hospital Patients Recover,” The Sporting News, May 16, 1964: 9.

5 Earl Lawson, “Reds Boast Talented Kids, but They Need Rescue Ace,” The Sporting News, April 4, 1964: 21.

6 Hutchinson had smoked three to four packs of cigarettes a day since serving in the Navy during World War II. His treatments were administered by his surgeon brother, Bill Hutchinson. Three days after Hutchinson’s announcement, the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Cancer was released. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/fred-hutchinson/.

7 Willie Davis was third in the NL in outfield assists in 1963 with 16. Cardenas was his fourth assist of the 1964 season. Frank Finch, “It Beats Losing! Dodgers, Reds Tie in 17,” Los Angeles Times, May 29, 1964: 27.

8 “L.A., Reds Play to 17-Inning 2-2 Tie; Dodgers Face Pitt,” Pomona (California) Progress-Bulletin, May 29, 1964: 17.

9 Maury Wills, four-time defending stolen-base leader in the NL, was himself a victim of larceny that week. Before leaving LA for the Reds series, he reported that his World Series ring, some money, and other possessions were stolen from his locker at Dodger Stadium. Then on the day of this game, a friend told police that Wills’s convertible car, which the friend had been keeping while Wills was in Cincinnati, had been stolen as well. On hearing about the stolen car, Dodgers traveling secretary Lee Scott offered that “Somebody must have read Maury’s book, ‘It Pays to Steal,’ and believed it.” “Stop Thief,” New York Daily News, May 29, 1964: 88; Jim Ferguson, “Maloney Among 1,000 Fans,” Dayton Daily News, May 29, 1964: 12.

10 There have been five major-league players named Bob Miller. (Unlike the Screen Actors Guild, major leaguers have never been required to use unique names.) This Bob Miller, whose full name was Robert Lane Miller, was the only one of them on to play in the majors in 1964.

11 Maloney entered the game leading the NL with 67 strikeouts.

12 Jim Ferguson, “5-Hour Show Just Dry Run,” Dayton Daily News, May 29, 1964: 8.

13 Jim Zofke, “Reds, Dodgers Battle to 2-2 Deadlock,” Dayton Journal Herald, May 29, 1964: 14.

14 Earl Lawson, “After 5 Hours and 17 Innings of Toil, Weary Reds, Dodgers Fit to Be Tied,” The Sporting News, June 13, 1964: 20.

15 In the last NL tie game that reached 17 innings, Smith had also failed to drive in the winning run as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and one out. On April 25, 1962, Smith, then with the Houston Colt .45s, popped out in the bottom of the 15th inning against the Cardinals’ Ed Bauta at Colt Stadium. The game ended 5-5.

16 Finch, “It Beats Losing! Dodgers, Reds Tie in 17.”

17 Perhaps the most notable, or infamous, feature of Crosley Field was its 15-degree left-field incline, known as the terrace. Incorporated when the ballpark (then called Redland Field) was built in 1912, the terrace made up the difference in grade between the low outfield wall built at street level on York Street and the playing field, its grade established when Redland’s predecessor park, the Palace of the Fans, was built. Babe Ruth was victimized by the terrace in his final season while playing for the Boston Braves, falling on his face chasing a batted ball, exactly 29 years earlier, on May 28, 1935. To commemorate Crosley Field, the main entrance of the Reds current home, Great American Ball Park, features a monument that includes inclines and statues of Crosley-era stars, including two members of the 1964 team, Joe Nuxhall and Frank Robinson.

18 Ferguson, “5-Hour Show Just Dry Run.”

19 Between 1953 and 1957, players receiving signing bonuses exceeding a certain level were required to remain on the club’s major-league roster for two years. This led to the widespread practice of clubs paying bonuses under the table, and so the First Year Player draft was implemented. Any club could draft a first-year player from another franchise’s lower level (minor-league) teams at a fixed price. In order to shield their top first-year players from being plucked away, many clubs kept one or two of them on their major-league roster. Most of those players were very lightly used. Jeff Torborg and Wes Parker were first-year players kept on the Dodgers’ 1964 roster to protect them from being drafted – draft dodgers, if you will. Taking up two roster spots that way left manager Alston shorthanded, no doubt contributing to their fall to eighth place in late May. Though on the active roster from the start of the 1964 season, Torborg had appeared in only one previous game that season, catching the ninth inning of a 9-1 blowout victory two weeks earlier. https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-real-first-year-player-draft/.

20 Newspaper accounts differ on the exact time the game ended.

21 Lawson, “After 5 Hours and 17 Inning of Toil, Weary Reds, Dodgers Fit to Be Tied.”

22 Heading into the final day of the season, October 4, 1964, the Reds were tied for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals, with the Philadelphia Phillies one game back. Jim Bunning’s shutout of the Reds coupled with the Cardinals pulling away from the Mets, 11-5, gave St. Louis the pennant. Managing the Reds that day was Dick Sisler, who’d assumed the helm on August 13 as Fred Hutchinson’s health worsened.

23 Hometown hero Fred Hutchinson was memorialized by his brother, surgeon Dr. Bill Hutchinson, in establishing the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, which opened its doors in 1975. Major League Baseball created the Hutch Award in 1965, given annually to a major leaguer who “demonstrates the honor, courage and dedication exemplified by former Major League player and manager Fred Hutchinson.” Dodger Sandy Koufax (1965) and the Reds Pete Rose (1968) were the first two National League recipients of the award. https://www.fredhutch.org/en/about/about-the-hutch/history.html; https://www.mlb.com/awards/hutch.

Additional Stats

Los Angeles Dodgers 2
Cincinnati Reds 2
17 innings

Crosley Field
Cincinnati, OH


Box Score + PBP:

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1960s ·