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Former Tigers pitcher Les Mueller dies at 93

Oct 26, 2012, 12:16 PM EDT

Les Mueller

Les Meuller spent parts of just two seasons in the majors, but among his 30 appearances with the Tigers was one very notable feat. On July 21, 1945, he pitched 19 2/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run, in what ended up being a 24-inning tie against the A’s in Philadelphia.

Meuller’s outing that day is the longest in the majors since 1930. The longest since was a Vern Law 18-inning start for the Pirates on July 19, 1955.

Meuller allowed 13 hits, walked five and struck out six in the game. He was finally relieved by Dizzy Trout in the 20th inning, and Trout finished it out before the game was called. It actually could have kept going; Shibe Park had lights at the time. However, there was a league rule against turning on the lights during day games.

Perhaps one reason the game lasted as long as it did was because the Tigers had their best hitter, Hank Greenberg, on the bench. Greenberg appeared as a pinch-hitter and walked.

Connie Mack’s A’s got five hits from Bobby Estalella, grandfather of the future major league catcher. Future Hall of Famer George Kell, still a youngster at age 22, went 0-for-10 from the seventh spot in the order.

After that game, Mueller didn’t pitch again for two weeks. He allowed three runs — two earned — in 8 2/3 innings in a loss to the White Sox on Aug. 5. He was primarily a starter the rest of the way, and he beat the Athletics for his final big-league victory on Sept. 14.

After the 1945 season, Mueller spent a few years toiling in the minors and then gave up on baseball. The AP reports that he operated a furniture store in Belleville, Illinois until retiring. He’s survived by his wife and three sons.

  1. blacksables - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Lived the dream.he also got baseball.

  2. kurtstallings - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Retrosheet has Bob Friend winning that 1955 game. Apparently in the bottom of the 18th, Roman Mejias pinch-hit for Law. Friend came in to pitch in the top of 19th and gave up a run, but the Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the inning to take the game 4-3 and give Friend the win, his sixth of the year.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Right you are. I misread it.

      Looking at it now. Law made that start on three days’ rest after giving up six runs in eight innings his previous outing. And after the 18-inning start, he went on to throw 10 innings on four days’ rest next time out.

      • kurtstallings - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        Two terrific pitchers on a team that was second division for much of their careers. Although that era’s club did win it all in 1960, Friend struggled against the Yankees in the Series. But his performance through the 50s leaves me wondering what his lifetime record would have been had he spent that decade with the Dodgers.

  3. coltzfan166 - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Man, I guess that’s cool that this guy wasn’t forgotten. RIP dude.

  4. willclarkgameface - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Les Mueller doesn’t want to hear any garbage about pitch counts.

    RIP Les.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 26, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      Indeed, and condolences to his loved ones. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also note the grand-daddy of all pitching duels, the 1920 game between Brooklyn and Boston in which starting pitchers Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger went all the way in a 26-inning 1-1 tie, the longest MLB game ever (called due to darkness). Oeschger allowed just 9 hits, in what was just short of a tripleheader. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and guess their pitch counts were both over 100. I also predict this record will live as long as MLB does.

      • badintent - Oct 26, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        Betcha Boston fans were still knashing their teeth over the Ruth trade too !

  5. js20011041 - Oct 26, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    When I first glanced at the picture, I didn’t see that he was wearing glasses. I only saw the lense over his right eye and for a split second, I thought he was wearing a monocle. That split second was awesome.

  6. historiophiliac - Oct 26, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Hey, my grandfather was with the Tigers organization at the same time. It looks like they played for the same minor league teams but at different times. I wonder if they ever met at training. My gramps was a RHP too.

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