PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — By about pitch 12 or 13 of Luis Guillorme’s fifth-inning plate appearance on Sunday, the Mets’ bench and 1,373 fans at Clover Park realized something unusual was happening.
By about pitch 17 or 18, everyone watching knew something remarkable was happening.
By pitch 22 — when Guillorme finally earned a walk against the Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks in the longest recorded plate appearance since such things were recorded starting in 1988 — everyone knew something unusual, remarkable, amazing, jaw-dropping and simply awesome had just happened.
"Never seen anything like it," Mets manager Luis Rojas said.
No one had. Because it had never happened before, at least not since people started keeping track.
The previous longest recorded at-bat was by Brandon Belt of the Giants, who took 21 pitches to fly out to right against the Angels’ Jaime Barria in a regular-season game on April 22, 2018.
Guillorme fell behind 0-and-2 (called strike, swing and miss) and then fouled off 16 pitches against the hard-throwing Hicks, who fired six that were clocked at at least 100 mph and four more that were 99 mph.
The final pitch was a down-and-in slider at 85 that Guillorme took for ball four. That ended a plate appearance that lasted 11 minutes and 40 seconds.
"Walk of the year," Ron Darling said on the WPIX broadcast. "On the 14th of March."
The reaction of the Mets’ bench during the middle and latter stages of the plate appearance was almost as epic as the outcome.
The way Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto and Dom Smith and the rest of Guillorme’s teammates were riveted by every pitch as they stood on the top step of the dugout, and the way they reacted as Guillorme fouled off pitch after pitch to keep the plate appearance going, and the way they jumped for joy on pitch No. 20 when they incorrectly thought he had walked because the stadium scoreboard had the count as 3-and-2 when it was 2-and-2, and their stunned reaction when they realized the plate appearance wasn’t over yet, and then, finally, the way Guillorme’s teammates acted as if the Mets had won the World Series when Guillorme actually did walk — that was remarkable, too.
It was bedlam in the dugout as Guillorme trotted to first.
The person who was the least impressed? That would be Guillorme, who said it wasn’t even his top personal spring training highlight.
"It’s pretty cool," he said after the Mets’ 7-5 victory. "I mean, I’m just happy I ended up with the walk. ‘Cause if I would have gotten out, that would have been not fun for me. All that work for nothing, you know? It’s pretty cool."
Guillorme’s top personal spring training highlight came on March 3, 2017, when he was standing on the top step of the dugout and calmly made a one-handed catch of a bat that was flying at his head after it was released on a swing by Adeiny Hechavarria.
"I think the bat catch is always going to top everything at this point," he said.
Guillorme, who was a minor-leaguer then, was known as "bat-catch guy" after that. Now he can add "22-pitch-walk guy" to his resume.
What made Guillorme’s plate appearance even more astounding was that it came against Hicks, who was making his first appearance since June 22, 2019. Hicks had Tommy John surgery and then opted out of the 2020 season because he is a Type 1 diabetic.
"Hell of a job by him," Hicks said. "Way to battle."
Because it was Hicks’ first outing in so long, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt wanted to remove him after the walk. But baseball has a three-batter minimum for relievers that was supposed to be implemented starting on Sunday. The umpires waived it and allowed Hicks to depart for his own safety. The Mets went on to score five runs in the inning.
In his next at-bat, Guillorme swung at the first pitch and hit a soft liner to third. Took all of three seconds. Remarkable.
The pitch-by-pitch of Luis Guillorme’s 15-minute-plus at-bat against the Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks*:
1 Called strike
2 Swing and miss
3-4 Foul ball
5 Ball 1
6-10 Foul balls
11 Ball 2
12 Ball 3
13-21 Foul balls
22 Ball 4
Totals: 2 strikes, 4 balls, 16 foul balls
* 6 pitches were more than 100 mph.