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The best (and worst) bench-clearing brawls of all time

Apr 12, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Ryan Ventura

I was not at all pleased to see Carlos Quentin and Zack Greinke go at it last night.  And I am on record as saying that throwing at guys is dumb. And that charging the mound is dumb. I am glad that fights are fewer and more far between now than they used to be back in the day, but I’d like to see them eliminated totally.

That said: some of these brawls can be kind of fun to watch if you put your hangups about such things aside.

Here are some of the more memorable ones, in no particular order:

Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura, 1993:

This one needs no introduction, for we’ve seen it a zillion times. It’s often called an epic beatdown by the elder, just-about-to-retire Ryan on the poor young Ventura. But in reality Ventura fought back fairly decently after weathering Ryan’s initial, famous assault:

OK, maybe Ventura still got totally owned, but history would have you believe that Ryan knocked him into next Tuesday. It was next Sunday at best.

Braves vs. Padres, 1984

Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins and it led to not just one, but multiple fights throughout the game. If this happend today the Internt would break:

Juan Marichal vs. John Roseboro, 1965

This one was scary. Marichal had thrown inside to two Dodgers hitters early. When he came to bat later in the game, the Dodgers catcher made a point to throw the ball back to pitcher Sandy Koufax in such a way as to have it sail close to Marichal’s head. Marichal flipped out, clubbed Roseboro with his bat and then a lengthy brawl ensured. Roseboro needed 14 stitches. Marichal was suspended for eight games. It coulda been way, way worse:

Orioles vs. Yankees, 1998

Armando Benitez threw one in Tino Martinez’s back. All hell broke loose:

Kevin Youkilis vs. Rick Porcello, 2009

First pitch plunk, a mound charge, a helmet throw and then a skinny ground ball pitcher does what he does best: buries Youkilis into the ground with a nice takedown. My girlfriend, a Tiger fan, has a picture from this one framed and displays it in our home.

Major League Baseball won’t let us embed this one, but you can see it all here.

Pete Rose vs. Bud Harrelson, 1973 NLCS

This one was more notable for the timing of it than the actual fisticuffs. You just don’t see fights like this in league championship series, as no one wants to risk a suspension or injury with so much at stake. But then again, when Pete Rose is involved, all bets are off:

Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez, 2003 ALCS

Another LCS fight, this one with a much greater age difference than the Ryan-Ventura fight.  Since it occurred, Pedro has said that he really had no idea what to do with the then-72 year-old coach charging him — Pedro also claims Zimmer was going to punch him and was insulting his mother —  so he sort of did an ole-job. Zimmer’s response to that in 2009? “Pedro is full of crap … It’s what, six years later? If Pedro wants to be a big man, I don’t care what he says.” Let’s just agree to disagree, gentlemen, and agree that this was hilarious:

Tigers vs. White Sox, 2000

I couldn’t find video of this one but I remember it well from the SportsCenter clips that night. Tigers starter Jeff Weaver hit Carlos Lee with a pitch. The next inning Jim Parque hit Dean Palmer. Palmer charged the mound, threw his helmet, and the fight was on. Unlike today’s pushing and shoving, guys were really punching each other. There was blood and guts and everything.


Hey, not all of these get their own category. Sometimes you just gotta listen to some bad music and watch baseball fights in montage form:

Got a favorite I missed? Let’s talk about them in the comments. But please: let’s keep it civil. I don’t want to have to eject anyone.

  1. motorcitydiddy - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    In the “Baseball’s Best Brawls” video, I like the crowd of the fight that starts at the about 1 minute mark. Apparently they came to see a brawl because no one even acts like there’s anything abnormal happening on the field. Both benches are cleared and the entire crowd is still sitting, eating, & drinking like this is all part of the game.

  2. jashton11 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Just because I was there, I’ve got to go with the brawl that Nyjer Morgan started between the Nats and Marlins in 2010. My wife got free tickets the day of the game from a co-worker. To this day, she still says that’s the most exciting baseball game I’ve taken her to.

    We were sitting about 15 rows behind the visitors dugout, so we got a great view of Morgan yelling at the crowd as he was being led out. We saw a guy and his young kids get tossed out by security for throwing popcorn (and probably some other stuff) at Morgan as he was coming off the field.

    That brawl is also why Gaby Sanchez is my all-time favorite Marlin. He’ll always have a special place in my heart for running over from first base and clotheslining T-Plush out of his cleats.

  3. qcubed3 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Canada versus Mexico anyone? Anytime Alfredo Aceves gets beat is a good day for everyone.

  4. richyballgame - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    ’86 Mets were a rowdy bunch,or so I’ve heard.

  5. jeffchadwick - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    That 2000 Tigers-White Sox brawl was a classic. It’s a shame that video is literally available absolutely nowhere. It was a giant brawl, an inning to catch their breath, then a giant brawl again.

  6. elmo - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Dodgers-Mariners brawl in 1999 was pretty hardcore.

  7. ptfu - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    The Padres’ Chris Young plunked the Cubs’ Derrek Lee in Wrigley a few years ago, and they both threw down. It wasn’t an especially brutal brawl, though the two of them were certainly whaling away.

    The interesting part is that those two mild-mannered lanky guys are probably the last people you’d imagine starting something. I mean, Derrek Lee vs Chris Young? Most people would have expected the other starter that day, Crazy Carlos Zambrano, to be involved.

    And he was. Big Z was changing his shirt in the clubhouse when the rumblin’ started, and he charged half-dressed out onto the field to take part. Maybe he was still fired up from when he fought his own catcher Michael Barrett just two weeks before.

  8. anythingbutyanks - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    You can NOT make a list of baseball brawls and not mention the Cards-Reds fight in ’10 when Cueto got backed up into the nets behind home plate and started going all kung fu cleats to the faces of players around him:

  9. humanexcrement - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Michael Barrett punching A.J. Pierzynski? Jason Varitek stuffing ARod in the face?

  10. mpilatzke - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    There was a brawl between the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets in the late ’80s where Rob Dibble plunked Tim Teufel. Nasty fight between them and Norm Charlton and Juan Samuel. Then the Reds and Mets pulled a Carmelo Anthony (before it was a Carmelo Anthony) and tried to get into one another locker rooms to continue the fight. I spent a lot of my youth hating the Reds after that one.

  11. manchestermiracle - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    I guess I just don’t like baseball the ways you guys do. When a fight breaks out I change the channel. If I wanted to watch a bunch of idiots ruining a game by fighting I’d spend more time standing outside the fence at the local correctional institute.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Nobody’s perfect. So you don’t like a good old fashioned brawl: that doesn’t make you a bad person. Sarcasm intended. At least there’s no crying in baseball AFTER these brawls. I’d bet you like that!

  12. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Pete Rose is involved, all bets are off”

    Ziiiiiinnnnnggggg!!! :)

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:20 PM


  13. bigred12 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    This one always comes to mind. Partly because i happened to see it live, but mostly because farnsworth piledrives the dude and just wails on him. Solid.

  14. jimeejohnson - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    At least Nolan Ryan’s a REAL good ole boy, unlike his good right wing NUT buddy, “LiL” gw bush-League!

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