It was one of the craziest baseball games ever played. It was topped off by something even more absurd once it was over.
On July 4, 1985, The New York Mets faced the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. It would prove to be a marathon game that went 19 innings, with the Mets winning, 16-13. However, that doesn’t even tell half the story.
With this being the Fourth of July, a crowd of almost 45,000 was on hand. The Braves had promised them some Fourth of July festivities, including a big fireworks display when the game was over.
The game started more than an hour late due to a rain delay. Other rain delays added up to over two hours, and the game didn’t end until 3:55 a.m. The field was more like a swamp from all the moisture.
A total of 11 players got at least three hits. The Mets’ Keith Hernandez hit for the cycle. Mets’ catcher Gary Carter solidified his reputation as an ironman by catching all 19 innings and 305 pitches.
Mets’ manager Dave Johnson and outfielder Darryl Strawberry got tossed in the 17th inning for arguing balls and strikes. Umpire Terry Tata reportedly told Johnson, “At 3 a.m., every pitch looks like a strike!”
The most absurd moment came in the bottom of the 18th inning. The Mets had gone up 11-10 in the top of the 18th, and it looked like they were finally going to get out of there. Braves’ pitcher Rick Camp came up to bat. A lifetime .060 hitter, no one expected much from him.
You guessed it. He hit the ball over the fence for a game-tying home run. The Mets looked flabbergasted. Ray Knight threw up his hands and shook his head in disbelief.
Apparently determined to end this thing, the Mets got their second wind in the top of the 19th to score five runs. The Braves tallied twice in the bottom of the 19th and the game was finally over.
Now, after a bizarre game like that, what could anyone do to top it? The Braves had promised their fans a big fireworks display after the game, but, by the time it ended, there were only a handful of fans left from the official attendance of 45,000. No matter. The Braves promised a fireworks show, and they honored their promise. They set off the fireworks . . . at 4:30 a.m.!
Needless to say, all the sane people in Atlanta who weren’t at the ballpark or working the graveyard shift were asleep in bed. They got quite a jolt from fireworks going off at that hour. The Atlanta Police Department was flooded with calls asking if the city was being bombed. Some wondered if the Civil War had restarted and the Yankees (the kind in blue uniforms, not the baseball kind) were attacking the city.
Maybe the Braves’ officials were suffering from sleep deprivation.
As it was, it was a fitting end to one of the most bizarre games in baseball history.