The notion of playing 100 consecutive innings of baseball might seem a bit odd to most players and fans. But to the players on the Gaithersburg American Legion Post 295 baseball team and their coach, Rick Price, the idea translated into a way to raise money to support their efforts.
"This type of event has been done before by the high schools, but to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time it's been done for a legion team," Price said yesterday at the baseball field of Seneca Valley High School in Germantown.
"Our legion team is pretty much self-supportive, and this seems like a fun way to raise a little money."
The fun began at 8 a.m. for Price and his team, comprising players from Gaithersburg, Magruder and Wootton high schools and residents of the areas around those schools.
It did not conclude until 5:15 p.m., nine hours 15 minutes later, after 96 innings. It was supposed to go 100 innings, but, according to Price, the Montgomery Village senior team "had had it" and decided to go home.
Funds were raised through concession sales, donations, and money pledged by patrons for each run scored. The amount pledged per run is decided by the individual donor.
Gaithersburg scored a total of 92 runs, but no one kept track of the opponents' scores. St. Albans, the Montgomery Village team and the Rockville Legion Post 86 provided the opposition. No one kept a scorebook, either, although one player, during inning No. 70, said he had been to the plate 15 times.
"This is the longest I've ever played, and I'm starting to feel a little worn out," said Jason Gregorek, 16, a first baseman from Magruder, after his 69th straight inning. "But this will help us. We've gotten in a lot of at-bats, and it's good preparation for the legion season."
The innings moved by swiftly, thanks to the use of a pitching machine, fed by Price most of the day, and the decision to play nine outs (or three innings) per team at bat. That saved time by cutting down on bad pitches and the time spent changing from offense to defense.
In addition to serving as a fund-raising event, the game also was considered the first open tryout for the Post 295 squad. Price said he was on the lookout for approximately 10 new players for his roster.
"We didn't expect to raise a whole lot of money," said Price, who said he hoped to raise several hundred dollars, most of which will be used for fees and registration for next season. "But that wasn't the only purpose today.
"We didn't set any goals, but even if we don't raise a lot, it's still better than knocking on doors," he said. "At least this way we're earning it."