July 2, 1993. The date alone won’t ring a bell in the minds of most Phillies fans. But, once one hears what happened on this date, the stories will start to flow from all those who were around to witness it. It was one of the most surreal events in Philadelphia Sports history. July 2, 1993 was the day that closer Mitch Williams won a game against the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the tenth inning in the second game of a double-header at 4:40 in the morning.
That’s right, you read that correctly. At 4:40 IN THE MORNING!!!. The Phillies were set to take on the San Diego Padres in a twilight double-header that was set to start at 4:05 PM. It started out as a sunny Saturday afternoon in July. That changed quickly though as at around the third or fourth inning in Game 1, the skies darkened and the rains started. And they were unrelenting. It was one torrential downpour after another punctuated with thunder and lightening and extremely high winds. What started out as a great day to play two turned in to one of the most miserable days you could ever imagine.
It was the Padres last visit to Philadelphia so all parties involved wanted to do everything possible to get the games in. The last thing either team needed was to have to play a make up game sometime later in the year. So even though game one of the double-header was delayed several times by heavy rains, everyone involved persevered and a game that started at 4:05 in the afternoon finally ended at 1 o’clock in the morning.
Game 2 was set to start at 1:30 AM. For those of you who have spent some time in the bar and had a drink or thirty there, you know this is only a half our before the bars close. When Game 1 ended, there were maybe 500 people left in Veterans Stadium. An amazing phenomenon happened as the bars in the Philadelphia area started to close. Instead of going home after a night at the bar, people decided to head down to the Vet and catch the second game of the doubleheader. With it being so late, people were able to just walk right in to the game for free. As Game 2 wore on, more and more people showed up at the Vet to catch some free baseball.
The Philles lost Game 1 of the double-header and Game 2 was a tight affair that saw the Philles use up all their bench players. So in a tie game with a chance to win it, Phillies manager Jim Fregosi had no choice but to let Mitch Williams bat in the bottom of the 10th inning. Williams wasn’t exactly known for his hitting prowess. He is a .188 hitter for his career and didn’t have one at bat in the 1993 season. Against all odds, Williams delivered the game winning hit as the clock struck 4:40 in the morning to win it. And my brother and I were there to see all of it… sort of.
My brother and I always loved to go to a double-header. What could beat seeing two games for the price of one? Unlike most of the people who witnessed Williams game winning hit, we were there right from the get go. We were there right from the opening pitch at 4:05 in the afternoon. We sat in the Vet for nine hours through all the rain delays until game one finally ended at 1 AM. After Game 1 ended, we were all ready to catch Game 2 but, there was a man sitting behind us who said, “Well, that’s it. You’re not allowed to start a game in MLB after 1 AM”. I assumed this guy knew what he was talking about and turned to my brother Matt and said, “I guess we should go then.” My brother said to me, “I don’t know Mike. It doesn’t look like anyone is going anywhere.”
My brother and I never leave sporting events before they are completed. We had gone to Phillies games before and sat through rain delays that lasted for hours on end but always stayed until the end. If there was going to be another game played that night, we were going to stay. But, when I heard the guy behind us say MLB won’t start a game after 1 AM, I decided to get up and leave. My brother kept insisting there was going to be another game played but I wouldn’t listen.
When we arrived home at around two thirty in the morning, I just happened to turn on my clock radio for some reason and heard Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn talking on the radio. I thought to myself “That’s odd. They don’t normally replay Phillies games on the radio.” And with that I hear Harry say, “Well Whitey, it’s not often you find yourself at the ballpark at 2:30 in the morning.” I couldn’t believe it. There was another game to be played and we left. And it turned out to be one of the most memorable games in Phillies history. I walked in to my brother’s room and said,”You’re not going to believe this, the Phillies are still playing.” He let me have it and rightfully so. “See!!! I told you we should never have left!!!” What are the odds that in a stadium that held 65,000 people where there were only around 500 people left in it, that we would wind up in front of someone, let alone someone who said that MLB won’t start a game after 1 in the morning? And why did I listen to him??? My brother and I missed one of the greatest games in Phillies history as a result of it. I kick myself every time I hear someone tell stories about that night. We gutted it out through all the tough stuff and didn’t get to see one of the most epic games in Phillies history. I should have listened to my brother!!!! In this instance, little brother knew best.