Let's play 2! Best, wildest and most notable doubleheaders

February 1st, 2022

“It’s a great day for a ballgame – let’s play two!” Those iconic words belong to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, the Cubs icon known for his love of the game. Scheduled doubleheaders were far more common in his day, but Banks professed to be ready for two games any day of the week.

In honor of his timeless quote, let’s dive into some doubleheader records, with help from the Elias Sports Bureau. Here’s a look at five of the best, wildest and most notable doubleheaders in the modern era (since 1900).

Most combined runs: 54, Red Sox at Athletics – July 4, 1939

This was quite the July 4th celebration at Shibe Park in 1939. In Game 1, the Red Sox got out to an early 10-0 lead through the top of the third. The Sox led 4-0 before even recording an out, after a Jimmie Foxx single drove in leadoff batter Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams cleaned up with a three-run homer.

But the A’s scored seven across the third, fourth and fifth to get within three, thanks in part to homers from Sam Chapman, Bob Johnson and Frankie Hayes. Then the Red Sox separated themselves for good, scoring three each in the sixth and seventh and another run in the eighth to win, 17-7, with home runs came from Doerr and Jim Tabor. And that was only Game 1, with 24 runs already on the board.

Philadelphia struck first in Game 2, with three runs in the bottom of the first, and by the top of the third, it was 3-2, A’s. Foxx hit a two-run double as the third batter of the third, then a walk to Williams, a Cronin sacrifice and a Lou Finney walk loaded the bases for Tabor, fresh off his eighth-inning homer in Game 1. He hit a grand slam to put the Sox up, 8-3. But the A’s came right back with a whopping seven runs to take a 10-8 lead. The A’s added another in the fourth, but the Sox scored three to tie it in the fifth.

That brings us to the top of the sixth, when fate conspired to bring Tabor up with the bases loaded again. He hit another grand slam, becoming just the second player with two grand slams in a game, after the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri in 1936 (also against Philadelphia). It has now happened 13 times – most recently by Josh Willingham in 2009. Of course, at that point it was just 15-11. The Sox went on to win, 18-12, including a third homer of the game and fourth of the day from Tabor, in the eighth.

The rest of the top five:

2. 52 runs – May 29, 1912: Senators at Red Sox

3-T. 50 runs – July 6, 1929: Cardinals at Phillies

3-T. 50 runs – May 18, 1929: Dodgers at Phillies

5-T. 49 runs – Aug. 22, 2007: Rangers at Orioles (the 30-3 game was the first of a doubleheader!)

5-T. 49 runs – Aug. 21, 1935: Cubs at Phillies

Most combined hits: 73, Cardinals at Phillies – July 6, 1929

It should come as little surprise that this twin bill also checked in on the top-five list for most combined runs, with 50. The Phillies won the first game, 10-6, racking up 13 hits to St. Louis’ 15. The Phillies got multi-hit efforts from Don Hurst, Chuck Klein, Lefty O’Doul and Pinky Whitney. Every position player in the starting lineup had at least one hit, which was also true of the Cardinals. St. Louis got three-hit efforts from Jim Bottomley and Charlie Gelbert, as well as four hits from Andy High. Twenty-eight combined hits, a good start, but nothing too far beyond an ordinary double-digit-run game.

In the second game, the Cards got 28 hits all by themselves. They had two 10-run innings and scored 28 total runs. That stood as the most runs by an NL team in a game in the modern era until 2020, when the Braves scored 29. But it wasn’t just the 28 hits for the Cardinals – the Phillies had 17 of their own, scoring six runs.

All nine Cardinals starters had at least a hit, as did the only substitute, a pinch-runner who got three plate appearances. Four Cards had at least four hits: Bottomley, Taylor Douthit, Chick Hafey and pitcher Fred Frankhouse, who tied the franchise record for hits by a pitcher in the modern era. Only two of those 28 hits left the park: Bottomley in the fifth and Hafey in the eighth. The Phillies’ 17 hits included at least one from every position player to appear in the game, including four from Fresco Thompson.

The rest of the top five:

2. 72 hits – Aug. 8, 1922: Pirates at Phillies

3. 71 hits – May 30, 1922: Giants at Phillies

4-T. 70 hits – Aug. 6, 1932: Cubs at Phillies

4-T. 70 hits – June 19, 1929: Giants at Phillies

4-T. 70 hits – Sept. 6, 1924: Giants at Phillies

You might have noticed that all the doubleheaders in this section have something in common: They took place at the Phillies' home park, the Baker Bowl, from 1922-32. Over that span, the 19,176 hits at the Baker Bowl were the most of any ballpark that had a single home tenant. The park featured a right-field wall that was as close as 280 feet from home, but batters had to contend with a massive 60-foot-high facade that extended well into right-center. For comparison, Fenway’s “Green Monster” is 37 feet high. Thus, a proliferation of hits at the Phillies’ park in this span makes sense.

Most combined innings: 32, Giants at Mets – May 31, 1964

The longest game by innings in the modern era was 26 innings, on May 1, 1920, between the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves. But this is its own category, most innings for two teams on the same calendar date, but across both games of a doubleheader. The Giants and Mets played a relatively routine, nine-inning game in the first game – a 5-3 Giants victory. But Game 2 was an entirely different affair. The game went 23 innings, lasting a whopping seven hours and 23 minutes – again, after the two teams had already played nine innings that day.

Gaylord Perry threw 10 innings in relief for the Giants, entering in the 13th and pitching through the 22nd before being pinch-hit for. His pinch-hitter, Del Crandall, hit an RBI double for the game’s first run since the seventh. The Mets’ longest pitching outing within the game was nine innings, from Galen Cisco, who finished the game for them. They managed to piece together 23 innings of pitching even with starter Bill Wakefield going just two innings. An impressive feat, even in a losing effort. The Giants won the nightcap, 8-6.

The rest of the top five:

2. 30 innings – Sept. 24, 1971: Astros at Padres

3-T. 29 innings – Sept. 14, 1971: Senators at Cleveland

3-T. 29 innings – Aug. 29, 1967: Red Sox at Yankees

3-T. 29 innings – July 4, 1905: A’s at Red Sox

No-hit bids of seven-plus innings in both games: Cubs at Phillies, July 11, 1957 (last instance)

This July 1957 doubleheader was the last time that there was a no-hit bid of at least seven innings in both games, by either team. There have been no-hitters in one end or other of a doubleheader, most recently Max Scherzer on Oct. 3, 2015, and there have been days with multiple no-hitters across the Majors on the same day: June 29, 1990, and April 22, 1898. But we haven’t had both of those happen together, a doubleheader with a no-hitter on each end. Thus, the interest in seeing two deep bids in a twin bill, at the very least.

In Game 1, the Cubs’ Bob Rush held the Phillies hitless through seven, allowing a single to lead off the eighth. The game went 11 innings, with Philadelphia winning on a Granny Hamner single off Turk Lown. Game 2 began to play out similarly, with one team simply not getting a hit. This time, Phillies starter Jack Sanford didn’t allow a hit until one out in the eighth. The Phillies already led, 3-0, at that point, and went on to win, 3-1.

Two extra-inning walk-offs in 10th or later: Phillies at Marlins, Sept. 26, 1998 (last instance)

There have been 41 instances since 1900 of both games of a doubleheader lasting at least 10 innings and ending on a walk-off. It might not sound like something that would be so rare, but just 41 instances in the last 120-plus years of the sport isn’t many at all – and this hasn’t happened since 1998.

The Phillies took an early lead in Game 1 on a Bobby Abreu homer and added on when starting pitcher Curt Schilling had an RBI single in the fifth. The Marlins added a run in the sixth, but the Phillies answered with another on a Bobby Estalella homer in the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth, the Marlins scored two runs to tie the game at three apiece, where the score stood until the bottom of the 10th. Florida won it on a Dave Berg walk-off double.

Game 2 featured scoreless starts from the Phillies’ Paul Byrd (6 1/3 innings) and the Marlins’ Jesús Sánchez (nine innings). The game headed to extras scoreless. In the bottom of the 13th, Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homer to seal the Marlins’ second walk-off win of the day.