May 31: A surprisingly important date in New York sports history

Joe NamathNew York Jets. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Joe NamathNew York Jets. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
New York sports
George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, New York Yankees. (Photo by Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images) /

1964: The longest day

Back in the 1960s, doubleheaders were more common than they are today. What made the May 31, 1964 twin-bill between the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants so special was that it turned out to be the longest doubleheader in MLB history. In front of over 57,000 fans at Shea Stadium, the first game went relatively quickly as San Francisco won 5-3 in just under two-and-a-half hours.

The second contest was played shortly after, but it was anything but fast. The Mets erased a 6-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh inning and three in the eighth to send it into extra innings. Neither team scored until the 23rd inning when the Giants put up a pair of runs to win the game. The total time of both games was just under 10 hours.

Among the weird events that happened in the game included the Mets pulling off a two-man triple play in the 14th inning, and Willie Mays played shortstop for the first time since he was in the Negro Leagues.

Bonus Fact: 19-year-old Ed Kranepool was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo just ahead of the doubleheader. Before he boarded his flight to Queens, Kranepool played in a doubleheader for the Bisons. During a span of 48 hours, Kranepool played 51 innings of baseball.

1976: Yankees drive Boston fans to the extreme

There has always been animosity between the two teams dating back to when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to New York in 1919. Two weeks before their May 31, 1976 matchup at Fenway Park, the Yankees, and Red Sox had a bench-clearing brawl.

Sox fans were incensed, they took out their frustrations on the Yankees players in a dangerous way. All game long Bronx Bombers outfielders had to dodge batteries, golf balls, smoke bombs, and firecrackers. It got so bad that Mickey Rivers had to play center field wearing a batting helmet to protect him.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was furious. He demanded a heavy police presence for the June 1 game, but it was canceled due to rain. The Bronx Bombers had the last laugh, they went on to reach their first World Series since 1964