A crowd of 32,221 poured into Forbes Field on a Monday night to watch the defending World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers take on the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. The big draw was the Pirates journeyman first baseman Dale Long, who had set a major league two days earlier by homering in his seventh straight game, breaking a record held by six others, including Willie Mays the year before. Long was given a $2500 bonus by Pirates GM Joe L. Brown as a reward.
Long had bounced around between the majors and minors for Cincinnati, the Red Sox, Detroit, the Yankees, the Browns, and two tours with the Pirates. Long finally got a starting job with the Pirates in 1955, a team that went 60-94. The 1956 team wouldn't be much better, but they were off to an 18-14 start and were in third place.
The Dodgers were on the board before most of the crowd was in its seats. Jim Gilliam led off with a walk and one batter later, Duke Snider homered to center over the 436' sign to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. But Friend would only give up one more hit during the game.
The Pirates got a run in the second when Lee Walls tripled to left center. Gene Freese hit a sacrifice fly to score Walls to make it 2-1.
In the fourth inning, Long came to bat against Erskine. And Long ended the suspense by homering into the right-field stands to tie the game 2-2. It was Long's eighth homer in eight games and his 14th overall.
The Pirates would take the lead in the fifth when catcher Hank Foiles tripled and scored on a pinch single by Bob Skinner. Friend went the distance for the win.
Long finished the 1956 season with 27 home runs, a career high. In 1957, the Pirates traded Long and Walls to Chicago in exchange for Dee Fondy and Gene Baker. Long would put up three 20-homer seasons in Chicago, but was sold to San Francisco before the 1960 season. The Giants sold Long to the Yankees for the stretch drive in 1960. The Yankees lost Long to Washington in the 1961 expansion draft and he had two mediocre seasons in Washington, but in the middle of the 1962 season, the Yankees reacquired Long in exchange for Don Lock. On August 2, 1963, the Yankees released Long. Long played in both the 1960 and 1962 World Series for the Yankees.
The Dodgers would bounce back from this early season loss to win their last NL pennant in Brooklyn by one game over Milwaukee at 93-61. The Pirates, still a young team, would finish in seventh at 66-88.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com