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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 29, 2001


HISTORY IN THE MAKING: It was 20 years ago this month, but the memories for Wade Boggs, naturally, are going to last a long time. Boggs was a key player in the longest professional game in history: 32 innings between Triple-A Pawtucket and Rochester on April 18-19, 1981, plus the final inning on June 23.

Boggs, a star for the PawSox, actually was part of the problem. "I hit a double in the bottom of the 21st inning to tie it, and in the 23rd, 25th, 27th and 28th innings they had runners on second with two outs and I made diving plays in the hole to throw guys out at first," Boggs said. "So I was sort of a culprit in keeping that going. My wife didn't know whether to kiss me or yell at me for keeping it going."

On and on they played into a bitter cold Rhode Island night, Boggs and Rochester's Cal Ripken and a handful of other future big-leaguers, until the umpires stopped play at 4:07 a.m. on what by then was Easter Sunday, some 8 hours, 7 minutes after they began, with 17 people left in the stands. "I called home the next day and told my dad I had a pretty good game last night, that I had four hits," Boggs said. "But the bad part was that I had 12 at-bats."

The game resumed when Rochester next visited June 23, and with the major-leaguers on strike, there was considerable hoopla and coverage, including TV crews from Japan and England. But it didn't last even 20 minutes, as Dave Koza drove in Marty Barrett in what was the bottom of the 33rd.

"It was anticlimactic because it only went one more inning," Boggs said. "But if you're going to do all that, you might as well come out on the winning end."

(Coincidentally, Rays media relations director Chris Costello was a batboy for the Red Wings that season.)

'YATTA, 'YATTA, 'YATTA: There is no bigger Bucs fan among the Rays than Fred McGriff, and after reviewing their off-season moves and draft haul he could best be described as cautiously optimistic. "From what they say, Kenyatta Walker is supposed to be the guy that gets them over the hump," McGriff said. "But you've got to go out and play on the field. It should be an interesting year for them."

Quick-change artists

When Hal McRae replaced Larry Rothschild after 14 games, it was the 11th quickest managerial change in history (for reasons other than death). Here is a list of the teams that made changes after fewer than 15 games:

(Year, Team, FIRED (W-L), Hired (W-L)

1999 Blue Jays, TIM JOHNSON (0-0), Jim Fregosi (84-78)

1986 Padres,DICK WILLIAMS(0-0), Steve Boros (74-88)

1960 Phillies, EDDIE SAWYER(0-1), Gene Mauch (58-94)

1947 Dodgers,CLYDE SUKEFORTH (2-0), Burt Shotton (92-60)

1988 Orioles,CAL RIPKEN SR. (0-6), F. Robinson(54-101)

1907 Red Sox,CY YOUNG(3-4), Several* (56-86)

1944 Cubs,JIMMIE WILSON(1-9), Charlie Grimm (74-69)

1972 Padres, PRESTON GOMEZ(4-7), Don Zimmer(54-88)

1991 Phillies, NICK LEYVA(4-9), Jim Fregosi(74-75)

1982 Yankees,BOB LEMON(6-8), Several**(73-75)

2001 Rays,L. ROTHSCHILD(4-10), Hal McRae(4-6)

* George Huff (3-5), Bob Unglaub (8-20), Deacon McGuire (45-61)

** Gene Michael (44-42), Clyde King (29-33).

What they're saying

Jayson Stark, writing on ESPN.com: "Say what you want about Chuck LaMar and the problems of his franchise, but he has always taken responsibility for his own mistakes. And it's one reason he also understands he's now the man on the hot seat."

Quote of the week

"We trust him. He gives us a positive flow." -- GERALD WILLIAMS, centerfielder talking about pitcher Albie Lopez

By the numbers

13: Games Rays have allowed at least one unearned run.

31: Strikeouts by Greg Vaughn in 88 at-bats.

2,031: Career hits by new first-base coach Lee May.

Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays

After 24 games (Year, W-L, Pct., P-GB)

2001 8-16, .333, 5-8

2000 9-15, .375, 5-6.5

1999 12-12, .500, 3-3.5

1998 11-13, .438, 4-6

* * *

Overall (Year, W-L, Pct., P-GB)

2001 54-108*, .333*, ?-??

2000 69-92, .429, 5-18

1999 69-93, .426, 5-29

1998 63-99, .389, 5-51

* projected. P-GB: Place in East Division-games behind first

-- Compiled by Marc Topkin.

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