Looking back at baseball's best brawl
Posted: 5 hours ago
The White Sox-Cubs brawl that we enjoyed over the weekend was certainly an interesting one.
Two heated intra-city rivals coming to blows on the diamond, punches thrown, punches landed, fan bases invigorated, ejections and controversy — all the stuff of a great baseball scuffle. However, as engaging as it was it's not even close to being among the greatest of "basebrawls." So in honor of the recent North Side-South Side bloodlust, let's take a look at greatest baseball fights in history.
1. Braves vs. Padres — August 12, 1984
It's difficult to impart the level of chaos in this one. The beanball war began in the first inning, and by the end of the game there had been three bench-clearing brawls. Braves hurler Pascual Perez threw at Alan Wiggins with the first pitch of the game, and the Pads retaliated by throwing at Perez every time he came to the plate
. Umps ejected 14 combatants, and even five fans were arrested (one for dumping a beer on Kurt Bevacqua's head). To top things off, after the game Atlanta manager Joe Torre likened his San Diego counterpart, Dick Williams, to Hitler.
2. Dodgers vs. Giants — August 22, 1965
The Dodgers and Giants have a long-simmering hatred that predates their arrival on the West Coast, and this was probably the most ugly of their encounters. On this day, Giants ace Juan Marichal had been buzzing hitters in the early innings, and when Marichal came to bat in the third Dodgers catcher John Roseboro responded by whipping Sandy Koufax's pitches back the mound and releasing them only inches from Marichal's head. Marichal told him to stop, Roseboro stood up and removed his mask, and then Marichal went all "Sword of Damocles" on him. Marichal raised his bat and clubbed Roseboro over the head a couple of times, opening a two-inch gash on the catcher's forehead. The league suspended Marichal for eight games, which was critical since the Dodgers would go on to win the pennant over San Fran by a mere two games.
The scene at the Tigers-White Sox melee.
(Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)
3. Tigers vs. White Sox — April 22, 2000
was a brawl. Jeff Weaver plunks Carlos Lee in the sixth, and then Jim Parque retaliates by beaning Dean Palmer in the seventh. Palmer charges the mound and hurls his helmet at Parque just before he reaches him. Order is restored, but another round of beanings and bench-clearings takes place in the ninth. Unlike a lot of baseball fights, this one had plenty of toe-to-toe action and landed haymakers. Keith Foulke had to get stitched up, and umpires ejected 16 participants. All in all, onlookers were treated to almost a full half hour of fisticuffs. MLB would later dole out 82 games in suspensions — the largest mass suspension for fighting in baseball history.
4. Orioles vs. Yankees — May 19, 1998
This one was more riot than brawl. Mercurial Baltimore closer Armando Benitez gives up the go-ahead homer to Bernie Williams in the eighth, and he responds by viciously drilling the next batter up, Tino Martinez, in the back with a fastball. And it's on. Graeme Lloyd charges in from the Yankee bullpen to take a swing at Benitez, and Darryl Strawberry clocks Benitez with such force that he tumbles into the Orioles dugout, which allows Alan Mills to pummel Strawberry for a while. The bad blood between these two teams lasted all season.
5. Reds vs. Mets — October 8, 1973
These two clubs faced off in the '73 NLCS, and it got particularly tense in the fifth inning of Game 3. With one out in the inning, Pete Rose came up and singled off Jerry Koosman. That brought Joe Morgan up to the plate, and he hit it on the ground to the right side, and the Mets pulled off a 3-6-3 double play. Rose — attempting unsuccessfully to break up that double play — slid hard into second base and knocked Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson to the ground. A tussle ensued, the benches cleared, and 10 minutes of brawling followed. Without question the most memorable image was the one of Reds reliever Pedro Borbon trying to — seriously — eat a Mets cap.
6. Orioles vs. Mariners — June 6, 1993
In the fifth M's catcher Bill Haselman homers to cut the Baltimore lead to 3-1. When he comes up again in the seventh, O's ace Mike Mussina plunks him, and Haselman charges the mound. The benches empty, Mussina is injured, and Cal Ripken Jr. wrenches his knee trying to break up the fight. Ripken, of course, was advancing on Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played and is almost unable to answer the bell the next day. Ripken later calls it "the closest I've come to not playing." The acrimony stemming from this one was such that Baltimore pitcher Alan Mills, who seemed to be brawling with entire Seattle roster at various points during the melee, was visibly upset when the O's later pursued combatant Jay Buhner on the free-agent market.
7. Red Sox vs. Yankees — July 24, 2004
No two teams loathe one another like the Sox and Yanks. Over the years, they've had no fewer than six throw-downs, dating back to a fight between Boston shortstop/manager Joe Cronin and Yankees outfielder Jake Powell in 1938. The greatest of these, however, is the Alex Rodriguez-Jason Varitek dustup from 2004. In the third inning, Bronson Arroyo plunked A-Rod (who the night before had driven in the winning run), and A-Rod made some colorful remarks to Arroyo as he began to make his way to first base.
It didn't spark Boston to the World Series, but the image of Jason Varitek's mitt in Alex Rodriguez's face will forever symbolize the 2004 Red Sox shaking off their curse.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Jason Varitek stepped in between the two, A-Rod challenged him, and Varitek served him up a large order of catcher's mitt. A-Rod got him in a headlock, and the benches spilled. Four ejections and a bleeding Tanyon Sturtze later, order was restored. To hear the revisionists tell it, the Sox took off after this morale-building rumble, but to hear the facts tell it they didn't really get hot until two weeks later. Even so, this one was a classic.
8. Umpire vs. White Sox — May 30, 1932
In Cleveland, the Indians take a doubleheader from the Sox by the scores of 12-6 and 12-11. After the second game, some Chicago players accuse home plate umpire George Moriarty of favoring the Tribe, and Moriarty took umbrage. And by "took umbrage" we mean "challenged the entire team to a fight." Pitcher Milt Gaston accepted Moriarty's challenge, and Moriarty responded by dropping him with one punch. The umpire broke his hand in the process, and Sox manager Lew Fonseca and two of his catchers jumped him. Moriarty's crewmate Bill Dinneen broke things up, but Moriarity would have none of it. "You stay out of this, Bill," Moriarty told him. "This is my fight." Then turning to the rest of the Sox, he bellowed, "Now who else is there who thinks I'm yellow?" No takers this time around.
9. Dodgers vs. Giants — September 24, 1981
A Giants fan — the 6-foot-4 Michael Dooley — hurled a souvenir batting helmet at Dodgers outfielder Reggie Smith as he stood in the on-deck circle. Smith responded by jumping into the stands, exchanging blows with Dooley, getting him in a headlock and trying to drag him onto the field for, one assumes, further vigilantism. Other Giants fans in the particular section of Candlestick rushed to Dooley's defense. Five minutes later, Smith was ejected (and escorted off the field by stadium security), and Dooley was led away in handcuffs. Five months
later, Smith would sign a free-agent contract with ... wait for it ... the San Francisco Giants.
10. Blue Jays vs. Red Sox — June 23, 1985
George Bell was always a hot-tempered and bizarre one (he once charged the mound after a called
strike and once told the press that the fans could "kiss his purple butt"), but few knew of his pugilistic creativity. On this afternoon, Bell, after getting plunked by Boston hurler Bruce Kison, charged the mound and — rather than taking a swing at him or executing a form tackle — attempted an impossibly awkward karate kick. Kison coolly stepped aside, let Bell do his thing, and then flattened the Toronto outfielder with a well-placed left hook. For comedic effect, Jays reliever Bill Caudill opted to join the brawl wearing only unbuttoned pants and an undershirt. It stands today as perhaps the most famous mound charge in baseball history.
Dayn Perry is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com and author of the new book, "
Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones" (Available now at Amazon.com