Think of what Blondie Purcell, Joe Mulvey, Will Harbridge, Sid Farrar, Jack Manning, Bob Ferguson, pitcher John Coleman, and members of the 1883 Philadelphia Phillies would’ve done. Perhaps they would’ve gone on the route of actress Lily Tomlin in The Magic School Bus by taking chances, getting messy, and making mistakes. Game Five of the 2008 World Series between Philadelphia and the Tampa Bay Rays had taken 50 hours to complete due to inclement weather.
On Oct. 27 at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia, the Phillies quickly opened with a 2-0 lead. As the game progressed, chilly temperatures soon joined a strong rainstorm. If Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig would’ve thought about safety, this contest could’ve ended after the top of the fifth for an official game (the Phillies led 2-1).
Unfortunately, the rain continued into the top of the sixth and routine ground balls were mishandled as the Rays tied the game at two runs apiece. Once the tying run crossed home, the game was suspended until further notice.
Practically nothing but rain surrounded the Delaware Valley as Citizens Bank Park didn’t continue the game on Oct. 28. Play resumed on Oct. 29 in the bottom of the sixth with wind chills in the upper 30s.
It didn’t take long for the Phillies to snap the 2-2 tie. Geoff Jenkins, batting for starting left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels, swatted a double to deep centerfield to start the last of the sixth. Jimmy Rollins bunted Jenkins to third before Jenkins safely touched home on a Jayson Werth single (Phillies led, 3-2). Hamels pitched six innings two days before when the heavens opened.
In the top of the seventh, Rocco Baldelli tied the contest, 3-3, by jumping on a fastball into the left field stands off Phillies reliever Ryan Madson. Jason Bartlett tried to score from second base on an Akinori Iwamura single, but Philadelphia backstop Carlos Ruiz tagged him out to keep the score knotted at three.
Thr Phillies responded in the bottom of the seventh with the help of Pat Burrell and Pedro Feliz to assume a 4-3 lead. Phillies reliever J.C. Romero made sure it would remain 4-3 with a shutdown top of the eighth (he didn’t allow the Rays to score). Philadelphia didn’t score in their half of the eighth. Three more outs and Philadelphia would celebrate its first professional major sports championship since the Sixers of the National Basketball Association in 1983.
Manager Charlie Manuel called on closer Brad Lidge to once again be “Lights Out Lidge” in the top of the ninth. Evan Longoria popped out to Utley at second base (one out, two to go). Dioneer Navarro, meanwhile, punched a broken-bat single to center field on an 0-2 pitch. Fernando Perez pinch-ran for Navarro and stole secondary to represent the tying run.
Undeterred and not willing to break a sweat, Lidge induced a pinch-hit lineout by Ben Zobrist to right field (two down, one to go). Standing in the way between the championship was Eric Hinske. This at-bat would be reminiscent of Phillies closer Tug McGraw fanning Kansas City’s Willie Wilson in Game Six of the 1980 Fall Classic to win the series.
The count was at zero balls and two strikes to Hinske. Phillies fans amped the volume with increasingly loud cheers while waving white rally towels. Lidge received his sign, and on an 0-2 slider Hinske swung and missed.
That’s right, struck him out. The Phillies won their second World Series title in 126 seasons. By the way, the final score of Game Five was 4-3 in favor of the Phillies.