Baseball by its very nature is a passive sport. There isn’t much in the way of pounding and thumping going on in the day to day aspects of the game. That’s why, when there is a fight, it’s usually very entertaining, mostly because the players are really, really bad at fighting. Here are the top 5 baseball fights of the modern era.
5. Chan Ho Park Karate Kicks Tim Belcher
June 5th, 1999. An interleague game between the Angels and Dodgers got interesting when the two pitchers got into it on the basepaths. Chan Ho Park, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher, took offense to the way Angels pitcher Tim Belcher tagged him after Park hit a ground ball. It started much like any other baseball fight, until Park took things up a notch.
Park, after throwing a few lame punches, opened up on Belcher with the always classic spinning scissor kick. It didn’t exactly work out like in a Jackie Chan movie.
All it did was send the would be kung fu master to the ground on his back, where he was easy prey for a good ole fashioned American beatdown. Park was thrown out of the game, and his aborted action movie play has been included on every sports blooper reel assembled ever since.
4. Pedro Martinez takes on the Yankees, old person
To say the Yankees and Red Sox have a rivalry is like saying America and Japan had a “political dispute” in the 1940s. The two teams have rabid fanbases that can’t stand each other, they both compete in the
same division, and it’s the longest standing and most heated rivalry in American sports. This all boiled over during the 2003 ALCS, when for the second time in four years, the two teams played each other for the American League pennant. By Game 3, tensions had boiled over at Fenway Park, and came to a head in the form of Pedro Martinez.
It was the 4th inning, and already the Yankees had tagged Martinez for 4 runs. He was pissed off, and he displayed that by throwing at Karim Garcia’s head, which was responded to by Garcia sliding hard into second base later that inning, escalating tensions even more. When Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens threw inside at Manny Ramirez, then the brawl was on. Of particular note was Yankee coach Don Zimmer, who went after the man he felt started it all: Pedro Martinez. He bum rushed Martinez, a man 40 years his junior, and…it didn’t go well for him.
After THAT fracas was cleared up, and Zimmer taken away in an ambulance, the game resumed. Things heated up again in the 9th, when another brawl was kicked up by a Red Sox grounds crew member against the Yankee bullpen.
Amazingly, no one would be ejected, and the series would be won by the Yankees in 7 games in one of the most dramatic League Championship Series games of all time.
3. Crafty old Ryan issues Major League Beat Down
August 4th, 1993. Nolan Ryan was in the midst of what would be his final season in uniform, bringing an end to an illustrious career that would lead to the Hall of Fame. He was 46, and far past his prime, but not too far removed from his fireballing days of pitching 7 no hitters that he wasn’t still capable of a good dustup. 26 year old Robin Ventura made the mistake of thinking otherwise when his White Sox met Ryan’s Rangers.
So, Ryan hits Ventura with a pitch. Really, no one should have been surprised, Ryan was known to be wild and hit a lot of batters in his long career. What was odd about it was that the hotheaded Ventura got offended enough by it to charge the mound. It’s the equivalent of a Padawan learner challenging Mace Windu to a lightsaber duel: it’s disrespectful, foolhardy, and most of all, it’s not going to end well.
The crafty Ryan waited for the charging bull to come, and then ole`ed him right into a headlock, and once there, proceeded to pummel him with his free hand.
It consistently ranks as one of the most one sided fights in baseball history for good reason: Ventura got his fresh face punched off by a living legend, and he is now remembered for all time as being on the receiving end of the Nolan Ryan fist punch of doom.
2. Knock Down Drag Out in Atlanta
The worst fight between two teams took place in Atlanta on August 12, 1984 between the Braves and the Padres. The Friars had a comfortable 10 ½ game lead over the Braves in the NL West standings, so there wasn’t expected to be much of a rivalry between the two. Of course, that all changed when Braves pitcher Pascuel Perez hit Pads batter Alan Wiggins with the first pitch of the game, obviously deliberately. San Diego manager Dick Williams vowed revenge for the cheap shot, and plotted it out to a tee, planning who would replace him when he was tossed, as well as the pitcher, and the replacement manager’s replacement. It was going to be ugly.
Williams decided to wait until Perez came up to bat before exacting vengeance. Three times they missed him in various points in the game, causing two managers and two pitchers to be ejected for the Padres. Finally, in the 8th inning, Padres reliever Craig Lefferts hit Perez on the elbow. Then it was on, as both teams poured out of the dugout and began a Gangs of New York style street brawl without any weapons.
In the midst of the fracas, one Padre went after Perez, who was hiding in the dugout, but was taken down by a Brave and two fans who decided to get in on the action, resulting in another pileup near the on deck circle, terrifying a 12 year old batboy caught in the melee. Finally, order was restored, but not for long. In the 9th inning, Braves manager Joe Torre brought Donnie Moore out of the bullpen to pitch. He promptly drilled Padre batter Graig Nettles, who had slugged him in the first brawl. Another brawl ensued.
Things were escalating now as fans starting throwing things at Padres player Kurt Bevacqua, who made the mistake of going into the stands after the fans responsible. He slipped and fell, and was set upon by the group of fans, being pummeled until a security guard intervened. The Padres starting pitcher-ejected in the 4th inning-came back onto the field with no shirt on to continue the brawl. Another fan ran onto the field trying to steal the third base bag, but was tackled by two Braves players. Finally, head umpire John McSherry banished both teams to the clubhouse for twenty minutes to give everyone time to cool down.
The game was eventually finished with police on top of the dugout and both benches emptied in one of the wildest games ever. There were a grand total of thirteen ejections, including three different Padres managers, 5 fans were arrested, there were three different brawls throughout the game, 7 players and managers were later suspended for their part in the brawl, the worst was Dick Williams, who received a ten game suspension. But the Padres would go on to the World Series that year, losing to the Tigers, so they got the last shot in.
1. Ten Cent Beer Night
One only has to speak those words to a baseball fan and they will shiver at the recollection. For the uninitiated, Ten Cent Beer Night was one of the most insane things to ever happen on a baseball field. In 1974, the Cleveland Indians were in the midst of a very long streak of being an awful baseball time,
combined with the fact that Municipal County Stadium, the “Mistake by the Lake” as it was known, was a dump. So attendance figures were really bad for a Major League Baseball team, about 8,000 a game. So, to increase attendance, on the night of June 4th, the Indians offered all the 8oz. cups of beer a fan could drink for only a dime apiece, and there was no cap on the amount you could buy.
25,000 people showed up to watch the Indians play the Rangers, who just the week before had a dustup in Texas where drunken fans stormed the field, but that wasn’t considered an issue here. The game progressed, and the crowd got drunker and more unruly. Signs of trouble were seen early on, when several people in various states of undress ran onto the field and displayed breasts, buttocks, and other private body parts to the general public. Fans started pelting opposing players with hotdogs, empty wine bottles, and loogies, among other things.
Things came to a head in the bottom of the 9th, where the Indians had just managed to come back and tie the score when a fan ran out onto the field and stole Texas right fielder Jeff Borroughs’ hat, knocking him over in the process. Rangers manager Billy Martin, who was no stranger to fights and brawls (he once got in a very publicized bar fight with a marshmallow salesman) thought that his player was under attack, grabbed a bat, and charged out onto the field to rescue him, followed by other players also carrying bats. This touched off a full blown riot as drunken fans armed with whatever weapons they could find stormed the field and went after the Rangers.
Seeing that the Rangers were in trouble, the Indians manager ordered his players to enter the fray to help them out, turning it into a battle as bat wielding players fought off fans carrying knives, chains, and broken pieces of seating. Bottles and steel folding chairs were being thrown from the stands, hitting players. The umpire, after suffering several injuries himself, forfeited the game to the Rangers, as any disruption of play is blamed on the home team. As the players got everyone safely into the clubhouses, the drunken mob was only dispersed by riot police who had to use tear gas to restore order. The stadium was absolutely wrecked, players were cut and bruised, it was like the aftermath of an explosion preceded by a rave party.
Ten Cent Beer Night is one of only a handful of instances where a baseball game had to be forfeited in the last 50 years, and it’s by far one of the worst fights ever seen on a field. Maybe someday, if all you readers are good little boys and girls, we’ll tell you the story of another baseball riot: Disco Demolition Night.