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Players battle heat in quest for baseball record

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(photo by Erika Ebsworth-Goold)

Updated at 8:55 am Thursday: The players officially broke the record of 48 hours, 9 minutes and 12 seconds around 7:30 this morning. They'll keep playing until 7 pm to reach 60 hours.

Our original story:

A group of 52 baseball players has taken to the diamond at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo. this Fourth of July in an effort to break the world record for the longest baseball game.

The group will try to play baseball for 60 hours straight - first pitch was 7 am Monday. Organizer and player Steve Pona was part of a group that played the first marathon game in St. Louis in 2007 - a 32.5 hour affair. He says every time they'd set the record, another group would break it - usually by 15 minutes or so.

"So we organized and said, you know what, this is the record that stays in St. Louis. It belongs in St. Louis," Pona said. "It's a great baseball record, and we are of course the best baseball town."

The two teams of 26 are raising money for Backstoppers, which supports the families of fallen first responders from the St. Louis area. Pona says that inspired the group to play despite on-field temperatures of 110 degrees.

"We sat back and said, imagine what the firemen feel like when they're fighting a fire and they're facing temperatures of 300 degrees plus," Pona said. "What's it like to be a police officer who is under constant stress, and you never know what's behind the next door? We realized that people who protect us on a day-to-day basis feel extreme pressures, extreme heat if you will, every single day they take the job. So if we play baseball for three days in 100-degree temperatures, we are honored to take the field on their behalf."

Pona says organizers are taking every measure they can to keep players safe. They’ve shortened the time each player spends on the field, and have medical personnel and air-conditioned tents on site. They’re also eating lots of watermelon.

Follow the game on Twitter: @60HourBallgame

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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