From SABR member Tim Hagerty at The Sporting News on September 29, 2016, on SABR member Phil Lowry:
Phil Lowry remembers the exact date his obsession with long ballgames began.
“August 9, 1963, when my father took me to a Houston Colts vs. Pirates doubleheader. Long rain delays, extra innings in both games, it ended at 2:30 in the morning. I was grateful to my dad that he allowed us to stay that long,” he recalled.
That Houston vs. Pittsburgh doubleheader at Forbes Field piqued Lowry’s teenage curiosity. When and where were the longest games in baseball history? “I got started at age 14, keeping track of games that went 20 or more innings,” he said.
Lowry is now 67 but has the same youthful passion for “marathon” games. The retired Army captain has scanned newspaper archives, studied box scores and made inquiring phone calls around the globe, all to compile his ongoing database of 871 baseball games that lasted 20 innings or more. His files are sorted by attendance, date, innings, location and teams.
“There haven’t been any Little League games, but there has been a Pony League game, international games, lots in Cuba, lots in Mexico, lots in Japan, lots of minor league games, lots of college games, lots of high school games,” he said.
He found a high school game in Japan that endured 50 innings, documented a 20-inning Class D marathon in Kentucky where the umpire asked fans if the game should continue (they unanimously voted “yes”) and discovered a 23-inning contest that took place on an Air Force base in 1923.
Originally published: September 30, 2016. Last Updated: September 30, 2016.