Lenny "Nails" Dykstra was one of many colorful characters on the 1993 Phillies, who won the National League pennant. Philly lost to Toronto in a seven-game World Series. John Cordes/Icon Sportswire

'Mitchie-Poo,' 'Nails' and three crazy Phillies all-nighters in early July 1993

The 1993 Phillies, who remarkably went from worst to first and won the NL pennant, were a team composed of colorful characters:

  • Reliever Mitch "The Wild Thing" Williams, who had a mid-90s heater and serious control problems.
  • Leadoff hitter Lenny "Nails" Dykstra, who claimed decades later he paid private investigators 500 grand in 1993 to dig up dirt on umpires in a scheme to pressure them to call a smaller strike zone when he batted.
  • Team enforcer-catcher Darren "Dutch" Daulton, who once threatened to rip Williams’ arm off.  (He apparently believed in aliens and lost civilizations.) 
  • And then there was outfielder-first baseman-quipster John Kruk, who feigned heart palpitations after Randy Johnson threw a ball wildly to the screen behind home plate during an All-Star Game at-bat that season. Afterward, he told reporters he would rather have his “testicles pulled off” than face “The Big Unit” again.

But this team had plenty of character, too.

Hell, the Phils needed it to play in three epically weird, wonderful (and lengthy) games within a week that July.

As the All-Star break approached, first-place Philadelphia hit a rough patch, losing five of six. In "The City of Brotherly Love," of course, only one reaction was suitable when the Phillies flubbed: panic. Before a July 2 doubleheader at Veterans Stadium against the awful Padres, players held a 32-minute team meeting; manager Jim Fregosi, meanwhile, reminded reporters of his team’s 5.5-game lead.

Then Philadelphia went out and lost, 5-2. 

The ninth inning of Game 1 almost started with a major problem for Philly: Dykstra apparently forgot to take his position in center field. Perhaps he was sleepy. Rain delayed the 4:35 p.m. start of the game for 70 minutes, and play was halted twice more because of downpours. 

To save the dirt infield after the last delay, the grounds crew poured “what seemed to be an entire beach” to make the swamp at The Vet playable. Post-game fireworks were canceled.

While fans were getting drenched, the Phillies played cards in the clubhouse. “Some money [was] exchanged,” starter Terry Mulholland told the Philadelphia Daily News. “Maybe a paycheck or two.” 

At about 11 p.m., the Phillie Phanatic — the team's mascot — mulled how to entertain the few remaining fans as he walked in a dreary corridor leading to the field. "Let's go out there naked," he suggested to members of the grounds crew.

Perhaps he was delirious.

For some reason, a “frightening number” of the original crowd of 54,617, according to the Daily News, stayed until the bitter end — which, by the way, mercifully came at 1:02 a.m.

But there was plenty of baseball left to be played. Crew chief Dana DeMuth ruled the show must go on. Play ball for Game 2!  Start time: 1:28 a.m. — probably the latest start for a game in Major League Baseball history.

At 3 a.m., some in the sparse crowd strangely did "The Wave." The ushers were long gone — they had been sent home at midnight. At 4 a.m., fans in the lower deck danced to "Twist and Shout." 

Through nine innings, the score was tied at 5. The Phillies nearly put this game out of its misery in the bottom of the ninth, but a runner was thrown out at home attempting to score from third on a wild pitch. Did this bizarre night/morning have something to do with Daulton and those aliens?


The Philadelphia Daily News' main headline said it all about the Phillies' crazy, rain-delayed doubleheader in 1993. Philadelphia Daily News

In the top of the 10th, the Padres were retired in order. It was almost 4:30, nearly time for breakfast. Padres closer Trevor Hoffman walked Pete "Inky" Incaviglia, and Jim Eisenreich followed with a single. After Daulton struck out, “The Wild Thing” batted because the Phillies had no position players left. When the career .188 hitter sliced a soft liner into left-center field for a run-scoring single — his first hit of the season — the estimated 3,000 insomniacs/fans remaining went bonkers. 

"This game is over on an RBI hit by Mitchie-Poo!" shouted Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

“We want Mitch!" fans repeatedly shouted. 

The time was 4:40 a.m. — the latest a big league game had ever ended. In less than an hour, the sun would rise. Some fans had been at the ballyard for 13-plus hours.

“I’ve never been through anything like this,” Williams told reporters. “I stayed because I had to.”

Seymour Siwoff, a master of sports statistics at the Elias Sports Bureau, spoke admiringly about the game. 

“I’ve been thinking for years: ‘One day, I’m going to wake up in the morning, turn on the TV and find out a game was still going on,'” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Well, with this game, I almost did.”

Williams' family stuck around for the first game, but most skipped the nightcap. Papa "Wild Thing" stayed in the stadium parking lot.

“My father,” the Phillies' left-hander said, “went to sleep in my truck.”

On July 7 (and 8), against the Dodgers, the Phillies played another marathon. Hadn't they suffered enough?

Protecting a two-run lead in the ninth, "The Wild Thing" was wild — and peeved. Fans at The Vet serenaded Williams with a version of "The Wild Thing." He jawed at the umpire, who gave him the heave-ho.

Boooooo!

Philadelphia fans, never shy about showing their displeasure, were not happy. Neither was the Phillies' first baseman.

"I wanted to kill Mitch," Kruk told reporters, "but they told me it was illegal." 

The Dodgers tied the score at 5 in the ninth, and the game dragged on ... and on. The temperature on the field was well over 100. 

In the 20th inning, the Dodgers took a 6-5 lead. In the bottom of the inning, though, the Phillies quickly put two runners on. Then, at 1:44 a.m.,  Dykstra finished the thing off with a two-run double against knuckleballer Rod Nichols. "Nails" said he had no clue who the pitcher was.

"It's been a long week," said Daulton, who somehow caught all 20 innings. "I think it's been a week, anyway."

Apparently pacified, Kruk was whipped, too. 

"I know this will come as a total shock to you," he told a clubhouse attendant, "but I need a pitcher of Bud."

A longtime editor at ESPN and The Dallas Morning News, Banks has written for The New York Times, Civil War Times, America's Civil War, Military Images and other publications. He lives in Nashville.



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