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A brief history of some important postseason postponements

October can be a rainy month almost anywhere in the USA. And that’s provided some delays in postseason baseball.

B.J. Upton of the Rays scores the tying run in a downpour in Philadelphia in World Series Game 5 in 2008. The game was suspended shortly after this
Rob Tringali/Sportschrome

Tuesday’s postponement of NLDS Game 4 between the Cubs and Nationals is the first such postponement for the Cubs in the divisional play era. Prior to Tuesday the Cubs had played 57 postseason games since 1984, and the only one that I recall having even a rain delay at Wrigley Field was Game 3 of the division series against the Braves on October 3, 2003. That game was delayed 30 minutes by rain, and light rain fell at times during the game, won by the Cubs 3-1.

Here are a few of the more significant postseason postponements and interruptions.

1962, World Series Game 6

Look at the playing dates for the entire 1962 World Series. There’s a four-day gap between Game 5 and Game 6, and even in 1962 it didn’t take that long to get from New York to San Francisco. Three days of rain in the Bay Area pushed Game 6 back, and that was after Game 5 in New York had been postponed by rain there. That meant just two Yankees starters, Ralph Terry and Whitey Ford, threw games four through seven. Terry wound up throwing a 1-0 shutout in Game 7 to win the series for the Yankees.

1975, World Series Game 6

This is, of course, one of the most famous games in baseball history, won by Carlton Fisk with a 12th-inning home run. But rain in Boston had postponed this game three times, giving the teams four days in between Games 5 and 6. Luis Tiant, who started Games 1 and 4, thus came back for Game 6, though he was long gone from the game by the time Fisk won it with his homer.

1986, World Series Game 7

The Mets, as you know, won Game 6 with a miracle 10th-inning rally. They didn’t get the chance to win the World Series the next day, though, as rain in New York postponed Game 7 for a day. The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but back-to-back three-run innings won the game, and the Series, for the Mets.

1989, World Series Game 3

Just as Game 3 was about to begin at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the Bay Area was hit by a major earthquake. Here is ABC-TV’s pregame show. At about 4:35 into this video, you can see the feed simply drop out and be replaced by a still frame, with Al Michaels speaking by phone:

The 1989 World Series was delayed by 10 days, and then the Athletics completed a four-game sweep by defeating the Giants in Games 3 and 4 at Candlestick Park.

2008, World Series Game 5

This wasn’t a postponement, but rather a game suspended due to torrential rain and wind in Philadelphia. Since the suspended-game rules of the time did not permit for a game to be suspended if it wasn’t tied, the teams played until Melvin Upton (then known as B.J. Upton) scored to tie the game 2-2.

Check out some of the commentary in the Retrosheet boxscore of this game:

RAYS 5TH: Baldelli reached on an error by Rollins; Jimmy Rollins fought with the rain and gusting wind trying to catch the ball; Bartlett grounded into a double play (second to first) [Baldelli out at second]; Kazmir struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 0 LOB. Rays 1, Phillies 2.

RAYS 6TH: Iwamura was called out on strikes; Crawford grounded out (first unassisted); Upton singled to shortstop; Upton stole second; Pena singled to left [Upton scored]; Ruiz allowed a passed ball [Pena to second]; Longoria flied to center; game suspended due to heavy rain and winds at 10:39 PM; resumed at 8:40 on 10/29; the first suspension in World Series history; temperature at the time of the resumption was 44 but it was dry; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Rays 2, Phillies 2.

This led to the rule change providing that every postseason game must go at least nine innings and if any such game is interrupted by weather and cannot be completed on the day it’s started, it will be suspended, no matter what the inning or game situation.

Hopefully, we won’t have any more weather issues this postseason.