And when they ended that game at 4:40 a.m. - on a game-winning hit by the greatest 4:40 a.m. clutch hitter baseball has ever known, Mitch Williams - they definitely set a record for the latest a major-league game had ever ended.
"You know," said Elias' Seymour Siwoff yesterday, "I've been thinking for years: 'One day, I'm going to wake up in the morning, turn on the TV and find out a game was still going on.' Well, with this game, I almost did it."
Siwoff awoke yesterday at 5:30 a.m. and called his office, as he always does, to make sure there had been no problems the night before. What he heard caused him to spring into overdrive, even as the sun was just rising in the sky.
By noon, he had ascertained, with absolute certainty, that the Phillies had wiped out the record for the latest finish by any game in history. The old record was 3:55 a.m., set by the Braves and Mets on July 4 (and 5), 1985.
That was a single game that went 19 innings. The Mets won it, 16-13. There were 2 hours, 5 minutes' worth of rain delays heaped on top of 6 hours, 10 minutes' worth of baseball. Lenny Dykstra went 3 for 9, with a sacrifice fly, in that one. Keith Hernandez needed 10 at-bats to hit for the cycle. And at the end, the Braves shot off fireworks, causing neighbors to call the police to report they were under attack.
"At the time of that game," Siwoff said, "we wrote it down: 'Latest finish in major-league history.' So we know the Phillies set the record."
The record for latest starting time, on the other hand, isn't actually known for sure. But Siwoff was virtually certain no game had ever started at 1:28 a.m. before "because, until the last 20-25 years, you couldn't do that. We had laws. You couldn't begin an inning after 1 o'clock in the morning, let alone a game. So we have to think this is probably an all-time record."
One record the Phillies and Padres definitely did not break, however, was the record for the longest rain delay. Although there are no official files on this obscure feat, either, it is known that the White Sox and Rangers waited out a 7 1/2-hour rain delay on Aug. 12, 1990, in Chicago. So they blew away the 5 hours, 54 minutes that the Phillies sat around Friday night.
"It's still hard for me to believe they could start a game at 1:30 in the morning," Siwoff said. "But it's great. It just adds to the romance of baseball."
Of course, that was easy for him to say. He got a good night's sleep.