Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 17, 2011
This day in history: Aug. 20, 1995
Wooster’s 19-inning pitching performance
By Van Williams
You won’t read about it in any history book, but Ken Wooster of Anchorage authored one of the unlikeliest scripts in Alaska sports history.
It was 16 years ago this week that the then 32-year-old pitcher with the Crossroads Brew Crew threw every pitch of a 19-inning, doubleheader sweep of the top-ranked Alaska Wolverines for the city’s adult league title.
Eat your heart out Roy Halladay.
Wooster, now 48, still smiles when thinking back to that magical day.
“It’s been awhile now,” he said recently. “It’s one of those things that other people might bring up, but I don’t.”
For nearly 40 years Wooster has dedicated his life to the game of baseball as a player and as a coach. His Little League days started in 1974. He began coaching in 1989.
But his day in the sun came on Aug. 20, 1995 when he threw 302 pitches on a sunny afternoon at Mulcahy Stadium – 153 in a 10-7, 10-inning victory in the first game and another 149 in a 4-2 win in the if-necessary championship game.
Wooster remembers the day well.
“I told them we were going to play two,” he said.
But it almost didn’t happen.
The Brew Crew trailed the first game 5-2 entering the eighth inning before the bats woke up with eight runs over eighth, ninth and tenth innings against Wolverines starter Ty Rollins, one of the better pitchers in the league.
Wooster went all 10 innings, allowing eight hits and a walk while striking out nine.
After forcing another game the Brew Crew had a problem: Who was going to pitch?
“I don’t think we really had a plan for the second game,” Wooster said with a laugh. “Mike Cummings was kind of the de facto coach and his plan was to see how the first game goes. If we win, we’d go from there. We didn’t have too much pitching after that.”
So they called on Wooster’s right arm once again. He had pitched several complete games over the season, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine himself pitching both games of a doubleheader.
“My arm was in shape, ready to throw a lot of pitches – maybe not 302 pitches,” he said.
But he was willing to give it a shot.
The Wolverines countered with ace Joe Bernier, who had won 25 of his previous 29 starts.
On paper the game looked like a mismatch.
“I mean, c’mon, they brought signs. They brought their families. They had noise makers,” Wooster said.
They had plenty to celebrate as Bernier carried a perfect game through seven innings, nursing a 1-0 lead.
Wooster, meanwhile, was cruising right along as his pitch count climbed.
“I had to make adjustments because you get past 200 pitches and you’re starting to feel it,” he said. “It was a really nice day. The weather was great. There was a lot of emotion.”
Cummings broke up the no-no with a single in the eighth and the Brew Crew erupted for four runs in the ninth – including the go-ahead RBI single by Wooster that drove in Mitch Vandenberg.
Then Wooster finished off what he started eight hours earlier by closing out the game, bookending a doubleheader with his 302nd pitch. He allowed just two hits while walking five and striking out eight in the second game.
“I'm only the best pitcher when he's not around,” Bernier told the Daily News in 1995. “Ken Wooster pitched a smart game and he did what he had to do to win. He kept everyone guessing and he pitched with control.”
The Wolverines were stunned after the game, saying little to Wooster.
“They were hurting,” he said, “but they knew it was a historic kind of situation.”
Wooster is still involved with the game today.
He currently manages the Service Post 28 Legion team. This season was his 18th year as a baseball coach; his other stops were at Dimond, Eagle River and Bartlett.
He’s also still pitching.
Playing for the Southcentral Titans of the adult league, Wooster came on in relief earlier this week to pick up a win against the Cubs.
Talk about a love for the game.