George Washington “Zip” Zabel certainly put the long in long relief.
Zabel was forced to make an early entrance from the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs on June 17, 1915, and he pitched the rest of the game.
He was the winning pitcher as the Cubs beat the Brooklyn Robins 4-3 in 19 innings, and his 18 1/3 innings are the most by a relief pitcher in one game. That record can be etched in stone.
Zabel, who was born in 1891 in Wetmore, Kansas, has ties to this area.
Kent Shorten, a defensive end for the Pittsburg Purple Dragons 30 years ago and Missouri Southern Lions from 1992-95, sent a note that Zabel is his great-great uncle.
Zabel played parts or all of three seasons for the Cubs from 1913-15, appearing in 66 games and posting a 12-14 record and 2.71 earned run average. In 1914 as a 23-year-old, he was 4-4 with a 2.18 ERA in 29 games and led the National League in games finished (18).
Almost one-third of the way through the 1915 season, Zabel was 4-4 with three shutouts. June 17 was expected to be a day off for him, but with two outs in the top of the first inning, the Robins’ Zach Wheat hit a line drive that struck Cubs starter Bert Humphries on the pitching hand. Humphries, who had allowed one run on three hits, had to leave the game.
Zabel entered and got out of the inning without further damage. The Cubs scored twice in the bottom of the first, and they maintained their 2-1 lead until the eighth when the Robins scoring the tying run on an error.
It remained 2-2 as Zabel and the Robins’ Jeff Pfeiffer matched scoreless innings until the 15th when each team scored an unearned run.
The Cubs finally scored the winning run in the 19th on an errant throw — the Robins’ fifth error of the game.
Zabel allowed nine hits and two unearned runs, struck out six batters and walked one. Pfeiffer yielded 13 hits, fanned six and walked eight in his complete game.
One more amazing stat from that 19-inning contest: Game time was 3 hours, 15 minutes. The average time for a nine-inning game last season in Major League Baseball was 3:05.
Zabel pitched only two innings in his next appearance and soon complained of a sore arm. He finished the year 7-10 with a 3.20 ERA, and it proved to be his final season in the big leagues.
Zabel spent his offseasons by attending Baker University — he originally enrolled at Kansas but was upset after learning he could not play for the Jayhawks’ varsity teams his freshman year.
He reported late to spring training for the 1916 season because of his college studies, and the Cubs sent him to the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. He had a good season — 17-13, 2.38 ERA — for the pennant-winning Angels, but marrying his college sweetheart and graduating from Baker with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry turned his attention away from baseball.
Zabel was hired by Fairbanks-Morse in Beloit, Wisconsin, and within 10 years he had risen to chief metallurgist for the company, which manufactured engines, pumps, generators, standard scales and later tractors when farming became more mechanical. He retired in 1948 and went into public service with five terms on the county board of supervisors and one on the Beloit City Council.
He died in 1970 in Beloit at age 70.
JIM HENRY is sports editor at the Globe and receives correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Jim_Henry53.