Out of Control: Fights In Baseball

Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2008

Whether they are on the ice, or under the sun in the dead heat of summer, fans love a good brawl.  Many fans enjoy those of the baseball variety because they offer a different aspect.

In hockey, the most famous sport for their fights, are typically one-on-one.  Most teams have their guys that are almost designated fighters. 

In baseball, when a fight breaks out, it typically involves a good portion of 50 players.  Think back and try to remember when you seen a punch thrown in a baseball game where benches did NOT clear.  You can't think of a time can you?

Some people I know, say the only thing they enjoy about baseball is the infamous bench clearing brawl. 

I understand where they are coming from.  I used to say, "only exciting thing about a Nascar race are the wrecks."  That was until the day of the 2001 Daytona 500.  On that day, legendary driver Dale Earnhardt perished in a last lap accident.  The accident in its self did not look to be a serious one, but it reminded everyone of how serious each accident is when you are going over 200 miles per hour.

I believe the same could be in the works for baseball brawls.  It seems over the past few years they have been getting more and more violent. 

We saw it last year when Jose Offerman attacked pitcher Matt Beech and catcher John Nathan with a bat.  Both players were taken to the hospital, Beech suffered a broken finger and Nathan concussion like symptoms.  Offerman, or AwFulMan as Red Sox fans know him, was held on $10,000 bond and charged with misdemeanor battery, in the most literal sense.

This wasn't the first time the bat has been wielded as a weapon.  Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal did something similar.  In a game where he was facing another famed pitcher, Sandy Koufax, when Marichal knocked down Maury Wills and Ron Fairly.  He came to bat in the third inning and Koufax did not retaliate, so somebody else did.

Dodger catcher, John Roseboro, took matters into his own hands.  On two pitches, he threw close to Juan's face on throws back to the mound.  The first time angered Marichal, the second pissed him off. 

Roseboro, whom had studied karate, was ready to beat Juan down.  He had no shot, Marichal hit him in the head with his bat, opening a two inch cut that needed 14 stitches. 

Juan was suspended only eight games.  The incident nearly kept him from the Hall of Fame, Roseboro is to thank for changing that.

In 1998, the movie Major Leagues: Back To The Minors, portrayed a different danger. 

As batter Carlos Liston came towards the mound, pitcher Hog Ellis said, "Hold it right there!  This is a hundred mile an hour fast ball.  One of the best pitches known to man.  If I were to hit you, it would've knocked your head clean off.  I can always miss, but I have been playing pretty good today, so you gotta ask yourself one question."

Liston replied, "Do I feel lucky?"

The Hog, "Well, do you Carlos?"

Liston walked back to the plate and that was the end.  This episode became a reality yesterday in a Minor League game between the Peoria Chiefs (Cubs) and the Dayton Dragons (Reds).

After managers, Donnie Scott and Carmelo Martinez got into a shoving fight, both benches cleared. 

A member of the Dragons went into the dugout, at that time Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo hurled a ball towards him.  The ball missed and sailed high into the stands, consequently sending a fan to the hospital. 

After the brawl, 15 players had been ejected, though some were allowed to come back to finish the game after a one hour delay. 

Julio Castillo wasn't so lucky.  He was arrested on a felony assault charge and held on $50,000 bond.

Is this incident really more dangerous than a player wielding a bat?  I suppose it is up for debate.  The fact is, they are both dangerous weapons.

They're not the only "deadly" weapons on a baseball field.  Cleats could also harm someone in a very serious matter.

Bud Selig needs to get a good handle on these situations.  As these things seem to be happening more rapidly in the past few years, it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured, if not fataly injured.