Skip to content

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

Apr 17, 2014, 11:33 AM EST

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:

Latest Posts
  1. Giants release Marco Scutaro

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:21 PM EST

    scutaro getty Getty Images

    Scutaro appeared in just five games last season for the World Series champions due to a back injury that has continued to bother him this offseason.

  2. Mets avoid arbitration with Jenrry Mejia at $2.595 million

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:59 PM EST

    mejia getty Getty Images

    Mejia requested a salary of $3 million from the Mets and was offered $2.1 million when arbitration figures were exchanged on January 16.

  3. Garrett Richards’ arbitration hearing set for February 11

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:43 PM EST

    garrett richards getty Getty Images

    Teams and players usually come to terms before hearings are needed — thus avoiding any drama — but Richards is a complicated case.

  4. Diamondbacks hire Joe Carter as special assistant

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:28 PM EST

    joe carter getty Getty Images

    It’s the first front office type of job for Carter, who played for six different teams — most famously the Toronto Blue Jays — between 1983-1998.

  5. Angels, David Freese avoid arbitration

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:15 PM EST

    David Freese AP AP

    Freese requested $7.6 million and the Angels countered at $5.25 million.

  6. The Braves DFA’d Jose Constanza to make room for Dian Toscano

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    braves logo large

    One fourth outfielder is being paid $6 million. The other fourth outfielder was not. Go Braves.

  7. Baseball is in The Best Shape of its Life. And isn’t dying, you guys.

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:59 PM EST

    Money Bag

    Wow! I get to use my two favorite cliches in one headline!

  8. White Sox sign Gordon Beckham, designate Dayan Viciedo for assignment

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:44 PM EST

    gordon beckham getty Getty Images

    Gordon Beckham played the first five-and-a-half years of his career for the White Sox before being traded to the Angels in August.

  9. Great Moments in Media Arrogance: Marshawn Lynch edition

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:25 PM EST

    Marshawn Lynch AP

    No, Johnny Sportswriter. Marshawn Lynch does not owe his job to you quoting him in your local newspaper.

  10. Mariners sign John Baker

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:16 PM EST

    John Baker marlins AP

    Baker was once a solid starting catcher for the Marlins, but he’s been mostly injured for the past five seasons.

  11. Joe Blanton is coming out of retirement

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:45 AM EST

    Joe Blanton AP

    Blanton called it quits in April after getting released by the Angels and struggling at Triple-A for the A’s.

  12. Remember when Cal Ripken’s mom was kidnapped? Yeah, it’s still unsolved.

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:03 AM EST

    violet ripken

    Dave McKenna of Deadspin looks into the investigation and why it has gone seemingly nowhere.

  13. Ichiro Suzuki’s deal with the Marlins is worth $2 million

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EST

    New York Yankees' Suzuki runs and watches the ball after he hit a walk-off home run to beat the Texas Rangers in their MLB American League game in New York Reuters

    At age 41 he’ll be joining the Marlins in a backup role, playing behind starting outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich.

  14. Yoan Moncada’s situation could clear up soon and he could sign in a couple of weeks

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    cuba hat

    Complications with new regulations may soon be ironed out.

  15. Pablo Sandoval made a half court basket while sitting on his butt

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:32 AM EST

    Pablo Sandoval AP

    Why yes, it is the darkest week of the offseason. Why do you ask?

  16. Rob Manfred not concerned about uneven DH rule

    Jan 27, 2015, 9:41 PM EST

    mlb logo large

    If you expected new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to either expand the DH rule to the National League or eliminate it altogether, you can probably stop now.

  17. Orioles acquire outfielder Travis Snider from Pirates

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:28 PM EST

    travis snider pirates getty Getty Images

    Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have completed a trade for Pirates outfielder Travis Snider. Pittsburgh’s return is a player to be named later and 21-year-old pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Papelbon (6000)
  2. J. Shields (4180)
  3. I. Suzuki (3792)
  4. R. Vogelsong (3565)
  5. Y. Moncada (3453)
  1. J. Gomes (2971)
  2. J. Hoffman (2701)
  3. F. Rodriguez (2658)
  4. D. Fowler (2617)
  5. D. Mesoraco (2433)