130 years ago, Cubs and Reds played 20 innings

On Wednesday, June 29, 1892, the Cubs, then known as the Colts, lost to the Reds, 6-1, at Cincinnati's League Park in the first game of a quick, 2-game series.

It was the Reds' sixth victory over the Colts in as many games since the start of the season, including a 3-game sweep at Chicago a week and a half earlier.

Thanks to their dominance of the Colts, the Reds were in fourth place in the National League, with a record of 34-26.

The Colts had snapped 7-game losing streak before arriving in Cincinnati and were mired in sixth place at 27-31.

When the teams met again the following afternoon, 130 years ago today, they did not just play a game. They made history, battling for 20 innings.

It was the longest game of the 19th century in Major League Baseball.



The Colts scored 3 runs in the second inning to grab an early lead, but the Reds quickly responded with 4 runs in their half of the inning.

After the Colts tallied 3 more in the third to go in front again, 6-4, the Reds tied the game in the bottom of the inning. They took the lead with a single run in the fourth.

The Colts knotted the score at 7 with a single run in the fifth. The Reds went scoreless in the bottom half and neither team scored again.



The next day’s Chicago Tribune describes what happened next:

"From that [sic] on, the fifteen innings were barren of result. Both teams struggled nobly for victory and every inning was hotly contested. [Outfielder Walt] Wilmot was the bright particular star of the game, while Uncle [Cap] Anson and [Sam] Dungan did some tremendous batting. The blonde Captain made four of Chicago's hits, while the right fielder made two doubles and a triple."

When the game was halted by darkness after the final out in the 20th, the Colts had managed 14 hits against Reds righthanded pitcher Tony Mullane; the Reds, 12 against Colts righty Ad Gumbert, as both pitchers threw all 20 innings. Gumbert’s job was the more stressful, as he ended innings with 12 Cincinnati runners on base; Mullane, with just 7.



The Tribune’s account focused more on fielding than pitching or hitting, particularly the fielding of Wilmot.

Immediately below the headline, TWENTY INNINGS AND NO RESULT, a subhead read: But for Wilmot, However, Cincinnati Would Have Beaten the Colts.

The story itself explained:

"A half dozen times the brilliant fielder Wilmot saved the Chicagos from defeat. He made several sensational plays, but his great catch in the fourteenth inning eclipsed them all. Defeat stared the visitors in the face when the Reds had runners at third and second with no one out.

" ‘Germany’ Smith was at the bat, and he made a double effort for a hit. Far out into the left field he drove the ball in a line, and the 1,200 spectators breathed a sigh of relief, thinking the game was up.

"Up into the air went the fleet left fielder and he came down with the ball. Browning, who had started for home, was forced to retrace his steps, and before he could get a second start the ball was in Gumbert's hands. Vaughn was easily disposed of and the Colts had a new lease on the game."



That story is in the left-hand column of page 8 of the Tribune, and the only digitized version extant was scanned from a ragged copy of that page, leaving some words missing or illegible, especially in a section describing how the Colts nearly broke the deadlock in the 19th inning:

"Every one thought Cincinnati's chances had gone glimmering in the nineteenth when Chicago's heavy hitting right-fielder (unreadable) one of the Mullane's curves and the ball (unreadable) to left field for a two-base hit. Canavan moved Dungan up to third, and any kind of hit would have sent a run over the plate for the Colts. Cooney lifted a little fly to left center.

"It seemed as though it would fall beyond the reach of the fielders, but Browning by a great effort (unreadable) the ball on a hard run and Dungan was (unreadable) third. Gumbert struck out and the game continued."



Interestingly, the story quoted above was printed on that page immediately below one that carried the headlines:



Saves Anson and His Colts

From Defeat at Cincinnati


Twenty Innings Played Without a Result Being Reached – The Game Called on Account of Darkness, Each Team Having Seven Runs – the Game Establishes a New Record in the History of the League – Mullane and Gumbert Pitch Great Ball on the End.


That story then begins:

"The game between the Chicagos and Cincinnatis was easily the most remarkable event of the baseball year. "It does not become a record, as the Harvards and Manchesters in 1877 played twenty-four innings, and last year Fargo and Grand Forks at Devil’s Lake, N.D., played twenty-five innings to a draw. Last May, the Tacoma and Seattle teams of the Northern Pacific League played twenty-one innings with a result being reached.

"Yesterday's game becomes a league record, however. The Providence and Detroit league clubs Aug. 17, 1882, played eighteen innings at Providence, the former club winning by a score of 1 to 0."


The story then cites a 1-0 National League game of 13 innings between New York and Boston on May 12, 1890; a scoreless Atlantic Association game of 14 innings between Baltimore and New Haven on May 30, 1890; and a 3-2 game of 16 innings between Detroit and Toronto, league unspecified, on July 2, 1890.

It concludes by noting, "This year Boston and Cincinnati played 14 innings without a run being scored."



The date of the 20-inning Reds-Colts game is incorrect in multiple online sources, no doubt the result of an original error being copied from source to source.

The date inevitably is shown as 06/03/92, when it actually was 06/30/92 -- the 2 digits of the day of the month were transposed, creating the error.

There would not be another 20-inning game until July 4, 1905, when the Philadelphia Athletics outlasted the host Boston Pilgrims, today's Red Sox, 4-2.

On Aug. 24, the Cubs won at Philadelphia, 2-1, in 20 innings.

A year and a week later, on Sept. 1, 1906, the A's won at Boston, 4-1, in 24 innings. That was the record until May 1, 1920, when the Robins, today's Dodgers, and Braves, battled to a 1-1 tie through 26 innings at Boston.

More than a century later, that remains the longest game in MLB history.

Two games ended after 25 innings: Cardinals 4, Mets 3, at New York in 1974 and White Sox 7, Brewers 6, at Chicago in 1984.



Here, in chronological order, are all 7 of the Cubs' games that lasted at least 20 innings:

June 30, 1892: 7-7 tie at Cincinnati (20)

Aug. 24, 1905: 2-1 win at Philadelphia (20)

July 17, 1918: 2-1 win at home vs. Phillies (21)

May 17, 1927: 4-3 win at Boston (22)

Aug. 28, 1930: 8-7 loss at home vs. Cardinals (20)

July 6, 1980: 5-4 loss at home vs. Pirates (20)

Aug. 17-18, 1982: 2-1 loss at home vs. Dodgers (21)

The 1905 game was supposed to have been the first of a doubleheader. Game 2 was postponed.

The 1927 game came the day after the teams had played for 18 innings.

The day after the 1930 game, the teams played 13 innings.

The day after the 1918 game, the Cubs played a 16-inning game at Brooklyn.



There have been 46 games to date of at least 20 innings, 29 in the National League and 17 in the American.

The most recent was on June 8, 2013, when the host Marlins defeated the Mets, 2-1, in 20 innings.

Home teams are just 14-27-5 in the ultra-long games: 7-18-4 in the NL and 7-9-1 in the AL.

The Cubs are 1-2 at home and 2-1-1 on the road.

Only the Dodgers, with 9, have played in more such games than the Cubs' 7.

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