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Cardinals and Cubs throw down in 1974: They don’t make brawls like this anymore

Apr 17, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 9.15.53 AM

This popped up on a baseball Facebook group I’m on. It’s from 1974, and it’s the sort of fight you rarely if ever see anymore. Punches thrown with purpose and guys running in from the benches and bullpens to actually fight as opposed to half-heartedly shuffle around in an effort to avoid being accused of not having their teammates’ backs.

The kicker here, however, is that what set this off was not some guy getting plunked. It was a pitcher taking too long to get to the rubber and a batter repeatedly stepping out of the box. Yep: what is now annoyingly commonplace was, 40 years ago, a causes belli.

Of course it wasn’t mere delay that led to this. As the Kinescope Steals Home blog noted in its extended description last fall, the pitcher was Al Hrabosky, whose pre-pitch routine was extreme even by today’s standards. He’d stomp around behind the mound, smack his head and generally make Brian Wilson look like an accountant. This bugged Bill Madlock who, as The Mad Hungarian went through his routine, stepped back to the on deck circle to put pine tar on his bat. He stepped in, Hrabosky stepped off and it turned into a battle of wills.

It got so bad that Cubs manager Jim Marshall came out to argue. The umpire, who unlike today’s umps used his power to get the game moving, ordered Hrabosky to pitch even though Madlock wasn’t in the box and even though the on deck batter, Jose Cardenal and Marshall were at home plate. Hrabosky buzzed everyone (Madlock had jumped into the box by then) and even though the ball was way high, the ump — not content to let everyone else star in this show — called it a strike. More arguing. Then Cards catcher Ted Simmons decided, screw it, he’d had enough, and punched Madlock in the face.

I don’t approve of violence. But when it’s 40 year-old violence and everyone turned out OK, well, I may enjoy it a little bit:

  1. rollinghighwayblues - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    My favorite part of the clip is when Cardenal (0:11) signals to his team to unload the dugout for reinforcements.

    • yahmule - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      The best Jose Cardenal brawl story was the time he was on first base when a brawl broke out. When order was finally restored, he sauntered over to second base like he belonged there all along and he got away with it.

      • rollinghighwayblues - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        Brilliant!

      • metroplexsouthsider - Apr 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        I remember George Hendrick doing something even more ballsy in the field, early 80s with the Cards. Two out, runner on base, ball hit to right, he came running in, made an attempted shoestring, kept running to the Cards’ dugout and got the 1B ump to punch the third out. Replay, even in early 80s TV, showed he had clearly short-hopped it.

    • metsr1 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      I believe Cardenal was actually calling for Madlock to get in the box since, the umpire started the pitcher and calling strikes. Strikes head high just to prove a point no less.

      • Michael - Apr 17, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        The rules say the umpire is not to grant the batter “time” once the pitcher is set (in fact, the rulebook’s guidance says “even if the batter has dust in his eye”), and it’s at the umpire’s discretion to grant “time” at any point other than that.

        I don’t know whether this ump had been granting Madlock “time” repeatedly or the batter just kept stepping out on his own, but the ump was absolutely correct to direct the pitcher to continue if judgment showed the batter didn’t have an important reason for calling “time.”

        Of course, that rule is almost completely ignored today, and batters will call “time” just as the pitcher is beginning his motion. The rare times (like once every few years) a plate ump actually goes by the book and allows the pitch after the batter tries to call “time,” there’s usually managerial hell to pay.

      • Michael - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Oh, and I missed this:

        The reason the ump called an obviously high pitch a strike?

        Rule 6.02(c): If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter.

      • sabatimus - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        Correct Michael. Why they don’t do this anymore is beyond me. To me though it’s more calling balls on “human rain delay” pitchers (Josh Beckett Disease) that I’d like to see.

  2. jm91rs - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    It’s awesome when the on-deck batter runs in there like “Screw this, I’ll hit if you’re going to keep arguing”.

  3. okwhitefalcon - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    “He’s stomp around behind the mound, smack his head and generally make Brian Wilson look like an accountant.”

    Craig – that without question is you finest blogging comic moment.

    Funny as hell, well done.

  4. nickseam - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Total ump show.

    • Michael - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

      Rule 6.02(c).

  5. paperlions - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    See, this is what happens when you get too many of those emotional Latinos on a team.

    • derklempner - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      Emotional Latinos? I thought it was because of the irrational Hungarians!

  6. [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    I’ve always been partial to this Yankees/Orioles brawl. A few notes:

    holy crap Strawberry is so much bigger than everyone else
    Strawberry with the mother of all sucker punches
    Raines hits a HR in the next at bat than no one remembers

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      Oh and Bill Simmons axiom of:

      Basebrawl’s are amazing, you could throw a chainsaw in the middle and people wouldn’t even get cut.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      And what do ya know? Accused pedophile, Chad Curtis, rocking the extremely high and tight flat top. (0:44)

      • metroplexsouthsider - Apr 17, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        Didn’t you mean “convicted pedophile”?

    • bigharold - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      As soon as I saw the Cards/Cubs video I was pretty sure that this pone was worse. And, after seeing it again it was. Not to mention a couple of Yankee/Royals, Yankee/RS brawls from the late 70s early 80s.

      What the Card/Cub brawl had was the Ump. That whole telling the pitcher to throw, calling the strike and two guys at bat at the same time, .. that was pretty funny, I’ve never seen that before.

  7. baberuthslegs - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Why did Madlock “put pine tar on his back”?

  8. schmedley69 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    There was an episode of The Baseball Bunch where there were two Ted Simmons (the left handed hitting version, and the right handed hitting one). Can you imagine how much damage two Ted Simmons could do in a fight?!?

  9. canadatude - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Check out the WBC brawl on Mar 9, 2013 — Canada vs Mexico.
    Mexicans thought they were messing with US players and only brought a knife to a gunfight.
    Canadian kids grow up playing hockey with no holds barred when fighting. Mexican team was lucky they held back due to the international implications.

    • cur'68 - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      I certainly grew up getting in hockey fights being from Edmonton. I’m not claiming I won any of them, or that i even acquitted my self well, but fighting was what you did. If you don’t throw down bare knuckle as a routine you don’t know how to do it.

  10. yahmule - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Obligatory mention of just how freaking underrated Simba was as a ballplayer.

    Second all time among catchers in hits, doubles and RBI.

    In 1973, he played in 161 games, 153 of them behind the plate. In 1975, played in 157 games and was catcher in 154.

    He finished with 855 BB and only 694 K’s in 9685 PA.

    His one and only appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot resulted in a pitiful 3.7% of the vote.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/simmote01.shtml

    • cohnjusack - Apr 17, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      Ted’s absence from the Hall continues to make zero sense to me. 8th all time in WAR for catchers, sandwiched between some guys named Bill Dickey and Gabby Hartnett.

  11. drs76109 - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Wish I could find video of the Tim Foli-Gene Mauch-Steve Carlton famous Phillies-Expos duke out. Remains legendary in the Philadelphia area.

  12. tmohr - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    The best moment for me was Simmons getting blindslided by the Cubs #12, who happens to be a young Andre Thornton.

  13. moogro - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    2, 2, 2 much posse

  14. cohnjusack - Apr 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    I’m sure that one has anything on this:
    Group of Cardinals start beating on Will Clark, Candy Maldonado appear on the left side of the screen taking down Ozzie Smith with a flying clothesline…

  15. Joe Vecchio - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:06 PM

  16. omniusprime - Apr 18, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Only morons like these phony scenes of violence of baseball players pretending to fight. This is one reason why I don’t watch MLB games any longer. A bunch of supposedly grown men acting like little spoiled brats fighting over nothing worth fighting over. A shame these cowards didn’t go into boxing, or the military, if they want to fight so badly.

  17. hcf95688 - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Best brawl:

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2009/Aug/08/padres-blow-by-blow-account-of-ugly-1984-brawl/

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v5955859/mlbcom-looks-back-at-the-padresbraves-beanbrawl

    • padraighansen - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      I agree. I remember reading about this in Dick Williams’ book.

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