15 Most Entertaining Bench-Clearing Brawls in Baseball History

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2012

15 Most Entertaining Bench-Clearing Brawls in Baseball History

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    While baseball isn't considered to be a contact sport, every once in a while tempers flare and emotions get the best of people, whether it be coaches, fans, managers or players.

    Some of the most vicious brawls in baseball history have taken place over the past sixty years, with many of them having been caught on film, either still photography or on video.

    Lets take a look at 15 of the most entertaining bench-clearing brawls in baseball history.

Honorable Mention: Willie Mays Hayes vs. Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn

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    It's one thing to fight the other team, but a bench-clearing brawl among members of the same team?

    Thankfully, we have Harry Doyle to give us the blow-by-blow from this scene in Major League 2.

Honorable Mention: California Angels vs. Seattle Mariners

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    After Lieutenant Frank Drebin tackles Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson, who was on his way to assassinate the Queen of England, all hell breaks out.

    Skip ahead to the 9:30 mark of the video to see the fisticuffs ensue.

15. September 15, 2009: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees

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    After watching his teammates Edwin Encarnacion and Aaron Hill get hit by pitches, Blue Jays reliever John Carlson knew he had to get even.

    So in the bottom of the eighth inning, Carlson did just that, throwing behind Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. The benches cleared, and while no punches were thrown, Posada could be seen yelling at Carlson.

    So when Posada crossed home plate and bumped into Carlson, everyone knew what was coming.

    The pair went at it as the benches emptied, resulting in a nasty brawl between Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas and Yankees reserve Shelley Duncan. Yankees manager Joe Girardi emerged from the fracas with a small cut on his face, the result of being punched by Blue Jays infielder John McDonald.

14. October 8, 1973: Pete Rose vs. Bud Harrelson: Game 3, NLCS

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    With the New York Mets in command 9-2, Cincinnati's Pete Rose singled with one out off Mets starter Jerry Koosman, bringing Joe Morgan to the plate.

    Morgan hit a ground ball to Mets first baseman Jerry Milner, who turned a three-six-three double play.

    But Rose did his damnedest to break it up.

    As Rose slid into second base, he slid with his hands high, smashing his elbows into Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson. Harrelson immediately went after Rose and the two tumbled to the ground seemingly "trying to kill each other" as the benches emptied (via Yahoo!).

    Reds outfielder Pedro Borbon somehow ended up with a Mets cap, which he promptly began ripping to shreds—with his teeth.

    After order was resumed and Rose took his position in left field to start the bottom of the fifth, Mets fans let him have it, pelting him with beer, soda and assorted garbage. It wasn't until a whiskey bottle nearly hit him that Rose retreated to the Reds dugout, and Reds skipper Sparky Anderson pulled his team from the field.

    Mets manager Yogi Berra, accompanied by Cleon Jones, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver and Rusty Staub, walked out to left field, with Mays and Seaver pleading with the fans to calm down. Finally, Yogi took the microphone and, after reminding fans that the Mets were in danger of forfeiting the game, said "Keep quiet. Let them beat us. We're ahead, 9-2."

    Order was restored, though a ring of NYPD officers circled the field as a precautionary measure for the remainder of the game.

13. July 24, 2004: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

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    After being hit by Red Sox starter Bronson Arroyo in the top of the third inning, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had some words for Arroyo as he walked towards first base with the umpire next to him and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek in front of him.

    A-Rod and Varitek exchanged words, Varitek hit Rodriguez in the face and the benches cleared.

    Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and another member of the Red Sox triple-teamed Yankees reliever Scott Proctor, throwing him to the ground behind the fracas while the rest of the teams tried to pry Rodriguez and Varitek apart.

12. June 6, 2008: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox

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    Bad vibes from the previous game spilled over in this one.

    In their previous game, Rays manager Joe Maddon accused Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp of intentionally trying to injure Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura on a stolen base attempt where Crisp came in hard and collided with Iwamura.

    In the top of the second inning of this affair, Rays starter James Shields hit Crisp on the hip.

    Crisp charged the mound, narrowly avoiding a huge right from Shields and landing a few punches before being taken to the ground by Rays catcher Dioner Navarro.

    Rays designated hitter Jonny Gomes sprinted to Navarro, jumping on top of his teammate and Crisp, landing sucker punches in on Crisp as he lay below two Rays, blindly throwing punches in an effort to defend himself.

11. July 22, 1986: Ray Knight vs. Eric Davis

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    With the score tied at three in the bottom of the 10th inning, Pete Rose singled off of Mets reliever Jesse Orosco. Outfielder Eric Davis was bought in as a pinch-runner and he promptly stole second and third base.

    Davis came in hard to third base, angering Mets third baseman Ray Knight, who had some choice words for Davis. Davis shoved Knight and Knight, a former Golden Gloves champion, hit Davis square in the jaw with a powerful right.

    As the dugouts emptied, Mets catcher Gary Carter sprinted down to third base where he stuck his catcher's mask in Davis' stomach and brought Davis to the ground, on top of the mask, knocking the wind out of Davis' sails.

    By then, the chaos was underway and it would continue for nearly 15 minutes.

    Reds starter Bill Gullickson squared off with Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson before joining his fellow starter Mario Soto in going after the behemoth known as Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell dispatched both pitchers without much problem. Reds starter Tom Browning then got into it with Mitchell, managing to rip a gold chain from Mitchell's neck before being tossed aside himself.

    Mets outfielder George Foster was the only Met who didn't leave the bench, believing that it set a bad example for children. Less than a month later, Foster found himself looking for a new team.

10. June 28, 2007: Lansing Lugnuts vs. West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A)

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    After Lansing's Matt Lane took West Michigan deep earlier in the game, Lane was the recipient of a Casey Fien fastball to the back in the top of the sixth inning.

    Lansing was not OK with this, and in the bottom of the inning, Lugnut reliever Edward Rodriguez drilled Whitecap Louis Ott in the back.

    Ott threw off his helmet and charged the mound, at which point Rodriguez threw his glove at Ott, allowing enough time for his catcher to grab Ott as Rodriguez landed a few punches. The benches cleared and all parties involved ended up on the ground.

    Ott, Rodriguez and a handful of other participants were ejected.

9. June 19, 2003: Paul Wilson vs. Kyle Farnsworth

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    Reds pitcher Paul Wilson is trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt, and Cubs reliever Kyle Farnsworth watches a pitch tail inside and off the glove of his catcher, Damian Miller.

    As Miller goes to retrieve the ball, Wilson starts barking at Farnsworth, who is walking towards home plate.

    Wilson makes a move towards Farnsworth, who executes a perfect takedown, landing a number of solid shots to Wilson before the benches empty and reinforcements arrive.

8. April 22, 2000: Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers

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    After hitting Chicago's Carlos Lee in the bottom of the sixth, Chicago sought revenge in the top of the seventh.

    White Sox starter Jim Parque drilled Detroit third baseman Dean Palmer, who charged the mound, firing his batting helmet at Parque as he reached the pitcher.

    As the benches emptied, legitimate fist fights were breaking out all over the field. Chicago reliever Keith Foulke ended up with a gash under his left eye that needed five stitches to close, while Tigers manager Phil Garner could barely speak, the result of being held in a choke hold by an unknown assailant.

    Sixteen coaches and players were suspended and an additional nine were fined. coach Juan Samuel received a 15-game suspension for throwing hay-makers at Chicago players, while Garner, Palmer and Chicago manager Jerry Manuel each received eight-game bans.

7. May 20, 2006: Michael Barrett vs. A.J. Pierzynski

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    In the bottom of the second inning of this game featuring cross-town rivals, Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski crashed into Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett at home plate. Upon being called safe, Pierzynski slapped home plate and bent down to retrieve his batting helmet.

    Barrett, incensed that Pierzynski showed him up by slapping the plate and believing that the Sox catcher pushed him during the collision, bounced up and grabbed Pierzynski, punching him in the jaw.

    The benches cleared and within seconds Barrett was tackled to the ground by Scott Podsednik of the White Sox. Additionally, a pair of outfielders, Brian Anderson of the White Sox and John Mabry of the Cubs, exchanged punches as the game was delayed for more than 15 minutes.

6. May 19, 1998: Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees

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    Believe it or not, Armando Benitez blew a one-run lead against the Yankees in the eighth inning of this game, allowing what turned out to be a game-winning three-run bomb to Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams.

    Benitez promptly planted a 99 mph fastball square between Tino Martinez's shoulders, infuriating the Yankees, who stormed the field.

    Yankees reliever Graeme Lloyd was so pissed off that he sprinted in from the bullpen to get a piece of Benitez.

    The brawl would move towards the Orioles' dugout, where Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry would swing and miss against Benitez. The force of his punch made Strawberry lose his balance, and he fell into the Orioles' dugout, where Orioles reliever Alan Mills gladly punched Strawberry in the face until he drew blood.

    "It was so blatant. Benitez caused a riot. That's the downside to the designated hitter. The pitcher gets braver when he doesn't have to face the music," said Yankees skipper Joe Torre following the game.

5. October 11, 2003: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, Game 3, ALCS

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    In the top of the fourth inning, Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez threw behind the head of Yankees right fielder Karim Garcia.

    The umpire ruled that the pitch hit Garcia's back, and he took first base while the Yankees dugout was erupting, screaming at Martinez.

    With Alfonso Soriano at the plate, Garcia took off for second base, sliding hard into Red Sox second baseman Todd Walker. Garcia and Walker exchanged shoves and the benches emptied with more shouting.

    Most vocal was Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, whom Martinez looked at and then pointed at his head, as if to say that he would be throwing at Posada's head when he came to the plate.

    Both teams were warned about pitching inside, but Yankees starter Roger Clemens would have none of it, throwing high-and-tight to Manny Ramirez in the bottom of the fourth.

    The benches emptied and Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, a wry 72 years old, made straight for the 32-year-old Martinez. Pedro made a feeble attempt to step out of Zimmer's path, choosing instead to throw Zimmer to the ground.

    In the bottom of the ninth inning, another scrum erupted in the Yankees' bullpen involving Garcia and a member of Boston's ground crew. Garcia would be forced to leave the game with a cut to his hand.

    Amazingly, nobody was ejected from the game.

4. July 3, 2001: Pawtucket Red Sox vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons

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    In a Triple-A meeting between the affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, Red Sox infielder Izzy Alcantara channeled his best Bruce Lee impression.

    Convinced that the Red Barons were throwing at him, Alcantara gets brushed back and loses his mind.

    He unleashes a well-executed karate kick into the mask of Red Barons catcher Jeremy Salazar before charging the mound, missing badly on a punch thrown at the pitcher before turning around and looking for someone else to hit.

    Alcantara was tackled, no punches were landed and the game continued.

3. August 4, 1993: Texas Rangers vs. Chicago White Sox

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    After being drilled in the ribs by Nolan Ryan, the Rangers' 46-year-old starting pitcher, 26-year-old White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura decided to charge the mound.

    As Ventura lunged at Ryan, the wily veteran got Ventura in a headlock, using his other arm to unload on the youngster and, as Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez wrapped his arms around Ventura, trying to separate the duo, all three fell to the ground.

    The benches cleared and chaos ensued with groups of players going after each other and others trying to restore order.

    Just as things started to calm down, Rodriguez started screaming at the White Sox, infuriating Chicago manager Gene Lamont. Lamont started to go after Rodriguez but was blocked by the Rangers Geno Petrocelli, who was promptly jumped on by a number of White Sox players.

    Rangers coach Mickey Hatcher emerged from one melee with a nasty cut over his right eye, dripping blood down the side of his face.

    Only Ventura and Lamont would be ejected from the game.

2. August 22, 1965: Juan Marichal vs. Johnny Roseboro

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    A rivalry that started raging more than 40 years earlier when both teams called New York home was as heated as ever under the hot California sun and in the middle of a four-team race for the National League pennant.

    By the time Giants starter Juan Marichal came to the plate in the third inning, he had already come high-and-tight to Ron Fairly and Maury Wills, sending both Dodgers to the ground.

    While Dodgers starter Sandy Koufax had no intention of retaliating against Marichal, his battery mate, Johnny Roseboro, had other ideas (via ESPN):

    When Marichal came up to bat, I tried a knockdown from behind the plate, throwing the ball close to his nose when I returned it to the pitcher. I expected Marichal to attack me in some way. If he had said anything to me, I had studied karate, and I was ready to annihilate him.

    The benches cleared and Marichal lost it, hitting Roseboro, who had shed his catcher's mask by now, over the head with his bat, opening up a nasty cut.

    As you can see in the video, even after the coaches thought that they had the situation under control, it wasn't over.

1, August 12, 1984: San Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves

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    One pitch resulted in the benches clearing four times—including three brawls—in one of the most entertaining and ridiculous games ever played.

    The Braves' Pascual Perez plunked Padres' leadoff hitter Alan Wiggins in the back with the first pitch of the game. Wiggins eventually made his way to first base without incident, but not before some members of the Padres came out of the dugout and Wiggins pointed and screamed at Perez.

    In the bottom of the second, Padres starter Ed Whitson threw behind Perez. Perez lost it, holding the bat like a weapon, threatening to charge the mound as Padres catcher Terry Flannery chased after him. The benches cleared and the world's largest stare-down ensued, but no punches were thrown and Whitson was warned by crew chief John McSherry.

    Aware of the fact that Whitson was going to ignore the umpire's warning in the bottom of the fourth, Perez was ready and he began moving away from the plate as Whitson released the pitch. Both Whitson and Padres manager Dick Williams would be ejected.

    Greg Booker, who replaced Whitson, would fail in the Padres' third attempt to hit Perez, this time in the bottom of the sixth inning, and along with acting manager Ozzie Virgil, the pair were thrown out of the game.

    As Kennedy would remark after the game, it was no surprise Booker failed in his attempt: "Perez was like a dancing toothpick after Whit tried to hit him. He was hard to hit."

    The fourth time was a charm, as Padres reliever Craig Lefferts nailed Perez in the elbow. Both dugouts erupted, resulting in a mass of bodies in the middle of the field. Padres pitching coach Norm Sherry, as he tried pulling Braves players off of his pitcher, who lay somewhere underneath the pile, became the target of Brad Komminsk, a 6'2", 205-pound outfielder for the Braves.

    Out of nowhere, Tony Gwynn speared Komminsk, picking him up on his shoulder and slamming him to the ground like a professional wrestler.

    In the meantime, Padres outfielder Champ Summers wanted a piece of Perez. After breaking free of Bob Watson's grasp, Summers took off towards Perez, who was being guarded by coaches and teammates in the Braves' dugout. That was until Bob Horner blocked his path.

    Horner, who was on the disabled list with a broken wrist, had rushed to the clubhouse from the press box and changed into uniform, charging the field to protect Perez.

    Along with the help of two fans who had jumped onto the field to join in the chaos, he threw Summers to the ground. At the same time, Braves outfielder Gerald Perry was intercepted by Padres second baseman Tim Flannery as Perry was trying to get his hands on Lefferts.

    Order was restored, Lefferts, Perry and whoever was managing the Padres at that point were ejected and the game resumed.

    But wait, there's more!

    Braves manager Joe Torre told his new pitcher Donnie Moore to focus as the game headed into the ninth inning with the Braves holding a 5-1 lead.

    "I told him, 'We have a game to win; let's go,'" Torre recalled. "And I looked in his eyes and knew I had no chance."

    Padres third baseman Graig Nettles, who would lead off the inning for the Padres, knew Moore was going to hit him, as the two of them got into it during the previous inning's brawl.

    Moore hit Nettles on the behind with his second pitch, and Nettles charged the mound as the dugouts emptied onto the field again. Nettles tried tackling Moore but was tackled himself by a charging Chris Chambliss of the Braves, Nettles' former teammate with the New York Yankees.

    Perry emerged from the Braves' clubhouse and stormed the field looking for Flannery, landing a sucker-punch to the face,

    In the meantime, Padres reserve infielder Kurt Bevacqua, who had been told by Nettles that Moore was going to hit him, came flying out of the dugout throwing punches at any Brave in sight, even pushing Padres bullpen coach and fourth acting manager of the day, Harry Dunlop, out of his way.

    After order was restored, Bevacqua walked back towards the Padres' dugout and got hit by a mug of beer thrown by Braves fans. Bevacqua climbed atop the dugout and went after the fan, but slipped as he went to throw a punch and fell into the seats, where the fans beat him until security was able to rescue him.

    By the time the Braves clinched the victory, 13 coaches and players had been ejected and five fans were arrested.