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Pitcher hung in for 21 innings

Thu., Aug. 5, 2010

The American Legion World Series in Spokane brings back memories of a 21-inning game in July 1951 between Kellogg and Bonners Ferry. I pitched all 21 innings for Kellogg and lost, 6-4.

Back then I was a skinny 16-year-old lefthander. I was not a hard thrower, but had good control of a curve and slider. It was a hot day and our field was all dirt and rock-hard in mid-summer.

The score was tied 3-3 after seven innings, and 4-4 after 16. We lost in the 21st inning when their best hitter, Harley Sanborn, doubled in two runs. The newspaper said I struck out 31 batters and gave up nine hits. I don’t know how I walked or many pitches I threw.

The reasons I went the distance, which broke all rules limiting pitchers to nine innings were:

1.Our only other pitcher was injured;

2.Our manager was out of the country. His replacement, a college student, visited the mound several times, asking if I wanted to come out. I refused;

3.My dad was out of town. If he had been present, he would have pulled me earlier;

4. I want to win. The week before I had lost a one-hitter.

Other highlights: My teammate, Joe Rinaldi, had to work a shift at the smelter and thought he had missed the game. He arrived in the 8th inning and played 13 innings! The umpire worked the whole game, the nine more as the House of David played our town team afterward. Our catcher, Paul Knudson, played the entire game. He was my vote for MVP.

The long game caused me to lose velocity of my never-overwhelming fastball. I later pitched for the Idaho Vandals, with limited success. I’ve always been grateful to the American Legion for their sponsorship of your baseball.

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