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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. darthicarus - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    My favorite “didn’t expect that guy to win the fight” brawl would have to be Rick Porcello v. Kevin Youkilis. I think Kyle Farnsworth showed Porcello a few take down moves during his time in the D. Very unexpected.

    • carlosguillensbatflip - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      If you watch the clip Craig links to, it shows the highlights (or lowlights) of the game before that lead up to this brawl. One of them is Youkilis getting plunked and then stared down by Edwin Jackson, an obvious challenge, but he does the classy thing – just shakes his head and walks to first. Yet the next day, a ball obviously gets away from Porcello, who is seen cursing at himself and obviously gesturing that is was an accident. My problem with Youk is that he charges the skinny kid who obviously let one get away from him instead of the bigger, older guy who challenged him the day before. You can even see Jackson trying to get to him and is later seen yelling at him from the Tigers dugout.

      Point is, Youk, if you’re going to walk around like a hardass all of the time then don’t turn down an obvious challenge from a guy your own size only to charge the mound on some kid. I’ve had no respect for that guy ever since…

      • detroitr1 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Hence the nickname ‘Karen’ Youkilis….at least from Tigers fans….

      • manchestermiracle - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        Apparently Quentin saw that video, too, and made sure to charge someone smaller than him.

  2. mrjavascript - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    One of the brawls I remember as a kid was between the Orioles and Mariners in 1993. Mike Mussina was the pitcher and Seattle catcher Bill Hassleman was the batter who took the HBP.

  3. frankgarrett - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    “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.” Craig Calcaterra

    Time to turn in your man Card .. Were you raised by a homosexual couple?

    • kjericho43 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Hey frankgarret, were you raised by a homophobic couple?

    • ryanrockzzz - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      nothing wrong with a fight in baseball. I don’t know why everyone gets all sensative about it. I like it.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Kenneth Faried was raised by two lesbians. Wanna question the Manimal’s manliness?

  4. TC - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    No Professor Farnsworth taking out Paul Wilson? (Set to a Pauler Abdul record?)

    • jwbiii - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:13 PM

      That was a great takedown, but as brawls go that was Marshal Dillon v. Miss Kitty.

  5. chill1184 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    The fight at 1:40 makes no sense whatsoever. However my favorite basebrawl has to be back in 2008 between the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway

  6. kopy - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    I used to know the details behind this one, but forgot. Either way, this kid was smart enough to know that if you eliminate the catcher first, the pitcher is vulnerable.

    • yodougmurphy - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Izzy Alcantara for the Triple A PawSox. I’m pretty sure kicking the catcher in the face violates the unwritten rules of baseball, but you can’t question its effectiveness.

    • jm91rs - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      That’s the funniest fight I’ve seen.

  7. Ducky Medwick - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Izzy Alcantara donkey kicked a catcher after NOT getting plunked.

    I guess the Wikipedia page on Izzy describes it as karate style. And also, he had a 6 game suspension. Pre 9/11 mindset.

    • kopy - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Turns out that’s the one I posted just above.

  8. oldpaddy - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    See, brawls are fun and cheeky!
    Nothing like a good baseball fight 😀

  9. icanspeel - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    It stinks Greinke got injured, but you have to admit it was very entertaining and all people are talking about right now.

  10. normswifevera - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Didn’t Mike Sweeney start one once? I remember him charging the mound and getting a pretty good shot in. Remembered mostly because he was about the last guy you’d expect to start something like that.

    • darthicarus - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      I believe that was against the Tigers & one of those mellow Weavers, of the Jeff variety (90% sure)

      • geoknows - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        You are correct, sir.

  11. johosophat - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Those Japanese fight dirty!

  12. hpt150 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    My favorite brouhaha was the Red Sox against the White Sox (or was it Toronto?) anyway, rookie Aaron Sele plunked George Bell (Jesse Barfield?) who proceded to charge the mound. Sele braced himself for the impact but the moment Bell’s foot hit the pitching circle, Mo Vaughn abdolutely cleared him out. The screen cap of the video shows Bell literally upside down on the crown of his head. It was a hit by Vaughn worthy of Monday Night Football. I have zero idea how the rest of the altercation turned out.

    • jwbiii - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:29 PM

  13. darthicarus - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    I’ve changed my mind, Rod Allen in Japan is my favorite “fight”. Listening to Rod Allen every day I can’t believe I forgot about this.

    • fusionix7 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      If this comes on during a broadcast and you’re playing the Rod Allen drinking game, it spells trouble.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      This really should be a video game — you have to run away from crowds following you while jazzy music plays. Everyone, hook right! Oh, they got you. Break free & take off again. Don’t let the managers calm you down!

  14. beefytrout - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    For my money, this is the best one of all time…

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      What the… what the hell? What are they doing? They all get together and they start holding their feet? What’s the point? I honestly thought at first they were trying to take their shoes off to attack the other guy with the spikes (nasty) but I’m not quite sure what’s going on there.

    • borderline1988 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      wtf? I’m so confused right now.

  15. fukpittsburgh - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Wish that O’s/Yanks highlight would have shown the replay of D. Strawberry getting rocked in the dugout by either Alan Mills or Arthur Rhodes.

    • protectthishouse54 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      I like how right before that, Scott Brosius goes after Benitez in front of the dugout and both guys are clearly waiting for their teammates to show up and hold them back. ha!

    • sophiethegreatdane - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      I know, I was waiting for that view too! I’m pretty sure it was Alan Mills. Elbowed Strawberry right in the head, if my memory serves me correctly. Benitez was a punk for starting that by plunking Tito, but Strawberry continued the trend by punching Armando from behind like a sissy. Alan saw to it that the sucker punch would not be tolerated.

  16. skeleteeth - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Man I wish there was video of Jack McDowell getting flattened by Mark Whiten.

  17. ctony1216 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Yankees – Red Sox fight, 1976: Piniella slams into Fisk, Fisk hits Piniella, Nettle slams Bill Lee. This is when the Yankees and Red Sox really hated each other. In this video, Bill Lee provides commentary (fight starts at about 1:32 mark of video).

    Still looking for the George Brett vs. Nettles clip …

  18. El Bravo - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Best pitcher totally pwning a charger batter is when Farnsworth was charged back in the day when playing for the Cubs.

    • dondada10 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Farnsworth is known to be a bodybuilder.

      He speared Wilson a la Bill Goldberg. Funny thing is if you watch Wilson creeping up the third baseline as he’s jawing, he clearly realized his mouth just wrote a check his ass couldn’t cash.

  19. realgone2 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:58 AM

  20. dondada10 - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    I don’t remember the details, but one time the White Sox and Royals were playing and some father and son combo attacked the first base coach. Both organizations then proceeded to stomp the two out.

    Alas, it was before the day of video phones. I’ve never actually seen the replay.

    • kopy - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      But not before cameras:

      • kopy - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:55 PM

  21. yahmule - Apr 12, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    My favorite was anything involving Reggie Smith. I was in Dodger Stadium, probably around 1977, Bill Russell pulled one just outside the foul pole in left and Rick Rueschel brushed him back on the next pitch. Reggie starts giving Rueschel hell from the on deck circle, even taking a few steps his direction. Sure enough, Smith steps in and promptly takes one on the ankle. He immediately starts limping and lurching towards the mound, I mean, literally dragging his leg behind him. Things suddenly got very real for Rick and he came off the mound making placating gestures. Reggie closed the distance and Rick absorbed an Ernie Shaversesque overhand right square in the forehead. Former Dodger Billy Buckner (he was called Billy then) was running around like a maniac. It was all very exciting for a 13 year old to witness.

  22. sabatimus - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    A-Rod vs Varitek anyone? Wasn’t that the brawl that also had Gabe Kapler going berserk?

  23. realgone2 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    No Coco Crisp with the gold gloves?

  24. jm91rs - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Tracy Jones with the Reds vs. the Braves. No one knew why he charged the mound, he even had to take a few swings at his own teammates when they tried to stop him.

  25. jm91rs - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Macho Man Randy Savage was a Reds Minor Leaguer for awhile, I wonder if he got into any fights down there?

    • yahmule - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      Oooohhhh yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh!

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