May 17, 2011
On May 17th, 1979, a howling wind blew straight out to left in Wrigley Field, and it carried a lot of baseballs with it. By the time this historic game was done, there had been 45 runs scored, 50 hits, and 11 Home Runs. The two starting pitchers lasted 1/3 of an inning each. 11 pitchers were used, and there could have been plenty more runs scored: the two teams combined to leave 22 men on base. The game featured future postseason heroes (Tug McGraw and Willie Hernandez) and future postseason goats (Bill Buckner and Donnie Moore.) It was one of the wildest baseball games a Philly team has ever been involved in, in any sport. How well were the teams hitting? A Phillies pitcher (Randy Lerch) homered in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first, a Cubs pitcher (Moore) tripled.
The Phillies got off to an early lead, scoring 7 runs in the top of the first. The Cubs answered quickly, scoring 6 in the bottom of the first. But the Phillies were hitting out of their minds, and had a comfortable 21-9 lead going into the bottom of the 5th. The Cubs came roaring back, thanks to the exploits of Dave Kingman, who hit 3 home runs to keep the Cubs in the ballgame, and Bill Buckner, who had a grand slam and finished with 7 RBIs. After 9 innings, the two teams were tied at 22 apiece. In the 10th, Schmidt hit his 2nd home run of the game to give the Phillies the lead back, and Rawly Eastwick retired the side to end the game. Here’s the box score of the game.
Incredibly, the two teams had played in another slugfest 3 years earlier at Wrigley, with Schmidt’s 4 Homers propelling Philly to an 18-16 victory. And there was only one game in MLB history in which two teams scored more runs. Those two teams were the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies. The place was Wrigley Field. The only thing different from the other two games was the result: the Cubs won 26-23, in a game in August 1922.
Here’s a great 2009 NY Times article about the game. And MLB doesn’t allow embedding for some insane reason, but you can watch video highlights of the 23-22 slugfest here.