Larry Andersen: Sometimes we’d spend the night in the clubhouse. We’d get up, strap ’em on, and go get ’em the next day. That is, if you could avoid Kruky playing wiffle ball until five in the morning.
John Kruk: I love wiffle ball. There was a day game, and I was supposed to have the day off. One of our guys came in with an injury, and they told me I was playing. I had finished my last adult beverage at 7 a.m. after pitching 45 innings of wiffle ball with the clubhouse guys. I think Curt Schilling was pitching that day. I told him, “If you want to win this game, you don’t want them to hit it to me.”
Mike Missanelli: Lenny Dykstra would walk around in his underwear with a cigarette, a cup of coffee and a bat. He’d ask some clubhouse guy to go out and throw BP.
John Kruk: The bullpen guys ate a lot and watched interesting television in the video room. I went back there after a particularly bad at-bat and they had seven or eight TVs; they had everything on except our game. They had pizzas and cheesesteaks. That’s the way they were.
Kevin Stocker, shortstop: Larry Andersen would be in the bullpen in the third inning completely covered in ketchup.
Larry Andersen: I befriended a seven- or eight-year-old in the bullpen at Dodger Stadium. His dad was a police officer, and for my 40th birthday they sent me a can of Instant Hair. Mitch Williams might have gone a little overboard with it, but I went out there and took batting practice without a hat for probably the first time ever. People were asking if I’d gotten a wig.
Mitch Williams: Every team needs some guys around to remind them the game is supposed to be fun. But maybe I gave him more hair than he needed.
John Kruk: We could be goofy and do whatever we wanted up until five minutes before the game. And after the game, we could do whatever we wanted up until five minutes before the next game.
Ed Rendell, then-mayor of Philadelphia: The 1980 team was clearly the best in baseball. They were a Cadillac. The ’93 team was a scrappy bunch of retreads that nobody thought had a chance to win.
By the end of June, the team had seen the gap between them and the rest of the NL East—once 11.5 games wide—shrink to 5.5 games. After the team’s 14-5 loss to the Cardinals on July 1st, Darren Daulton told reporters, “This is the most embarrassing game I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been on some bad teams, and I’ve been a very, very, very bad player before. But that’s the most embarrassed I’ve ever been.” The team rallied—winning the second half of a doubleheader that ended at 4:41 a.m. on July 3rd, then beating the Dodgers in a 20-inning marathon less than a week later. Mitch Williams had already earned his “Wild Thing” moniker, but that week was his symposium on late-inning dramatics.
Brian Hastings, stadium concessions manager: By July, we were seeing 30,000 or 40,000 during the week and 50,000 or 60,000 on the weekends. I remember having to scramble around to convert some of the merchandise stands to food and beverage stands because we couldn’t satisfy all of the demand.
Jayson Stark: It was a stupid, insane, hilarious ride. When I look back on that team, I don’t just remember a crazy team that won a lot of games—I remember a team that won a lot of crazy games. No one in the history of America has been responsible for the death of more journalism than Mitch Williams. Whatever you had written was irrelevant after 10 pitches. Whether he saved it or not, you ended up writing about what happened while he was on the mound.
Larry Andersen: That doubleheader is one that you can’t forget. We started that second game after 1 a.m. If we could have worked it out that we took games later like that, it probably would have been in our favor—because that was really the shank of the evening for us.
Tom Burgoyne: We had close to six hours of rain delays; they had to shut the scoreboards down because the weather was so bad. I thought, I guess I have to keep playing music to keep the people in it. We played TV theme songs, The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island.
Jayson Stark: That week summed up that team. Of course, they won the 4:41 a.m. game.
Jim Fregosi: My wife and family had just driven up from Florida, and she was waiting for me to come home. She called the bar downstairs at the hotel we were staying at, and then she called the ballpark, like, “Where is that sonofabitch?”
John Kruk: People look at those games as the type that can hurt you or kill your team. We looked at it like, “Screw you. We’re winning the games, and our pitching will bounce back. We just played 20 innings and we just kicked some ass, now let’s go play some more.”
Brian Hastings: At 2 a.m., all of the bars were emptying, and everyone was coming into the stadium afterward.
Curt Schilling: Mitch Williams comes in and hits that walk-off into the gap. We’d been playing for so long, and then our closer comes in to deliver the game-winning knock.
Howard Eskin: I was there for the end of the doubleheader. I have no idea why I stayed. They still shot off the fireworks after the game. Four in the morning and they’re shooting off fireworks.
Frank Coppenbarger: The 20-inning game was actually Kevin Stocker’s first game in The Bigs.
Kevin Stocker: After the game ended, everyone was in the clubhouse celebrating, and I got called into the office and got chewed out by Fregosi. It was my first Major League game, and I had a chance to win the game a couple of times with runners in scoring position and hadn’t swung the bat very well.
John Kruk: That was an interesting run of games. After the [20-inning] game, the first thing Kevin Stocker asked was, “Is it like this every day?” We said, “Absolutely not … sometimes it’s worse.”