MLB Power Rankings: The 10 Biggest Brawls in MLB History
Hockey is known for fighting. Baseball is seen as more of a pastoral sport, played on a sunny afternoon in June. For a game with such similarities to cricket, that is perhaps not such a surprising thing. But the major leagues have seen their fair share of brawls over the years.
Disco Demolition Night and 10-cent Beer Night were not included, since they were more riots than brawls, and even if you counted the former as a fight, it was between the players and fans, not the two teams.
Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina
August 10, 2010: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
Cardinals catcher Molina took exception to a tap on his pads from leadoff guy Phillips.
With Phillips' comments the day before (“I hate the Cardinals”) probably still ringing in his ears, Molina stood up, the pair shouted at each other and the benches cleared.
Once the fight had started, though, it was Johnny Cueto who stole the show. Clearly no one told him kicking is a little frowned upon in baseball fights.
The Juan Marichal-John Roseboro Incident
August 22, 1965: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
This infamous fight was the culmination of three days of incidents, arguments, brushback pitches, collisions and hit-batsmen in a key series between LA and San Francisco, which were locked in another close pennant race.
The fight caught everyone by surprise, including fans and the media, so no one is exactly sure how it came about. One must rely on conflicting eyewitness and newspaper reports to try to piece it together.
Juan Marichal took exception to Dodgers' catcher John Roseboro’s return throws to Sandy Koufax. When one apparently grazed his ear, he stepped towards the catcher, who stood up and took off his mask. Words were exchanged and Marichal swung his bat at Roseboro’s head.
Roseboro needed fourteen stitches. Marichal was suspended for nine games and fined $1,750.
Jeff Weaver's Rosin Bag
August 10, 2001: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals
The Royals had asked the umpires to check Jeff Weaver’s rosin bag on two separate occasions during the game. When Mike Sweeney spoke to the umpires a third time about it, Weaver had some choice words for the batter.
Sweeney was not happy and charged the mound, throwing his helmet at the pitcher en route. After the traditional bench clearing and coach shoving, the fight died down—until Detroit’s Robert Fick swung at Sweeney and the whole thing started again.
Jason Varitek Punches A-Rod
July 24, 2004: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
The story goes that after Alex Rodriguez is plunked, Varitek says to him: “Take your base; we don’t hit .260 hitters.” It would be great if that is true, but there is no doubt about what A-Rod said back. Or what happened next.
Varitek punches the Yankees' slugger, sparking a brawl which, each time it looked like it was over, started back up again with another two players scuffling with one another.
Pete Rose vs. Bud Harrelson
October 8, 1973: Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets
Pete Rose was standing at first base during Game 3 of the 1973 NCLS against the Mets. On a Joe Morgan ground ball, Rose tried to break up the double play by sliding into Harrelson. He was unsuccessful, Harrelson was unimpressed and the two ended up wrestling. The ensuing fights lasted 10 minutes.
Chan Ho Park Dropkicks Tim Belcher
June 5, 1999: Anaheim Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers
Many fights begin with a batter getting hit and charging the mound. This one did not. Instead, it was a sacrifice bunt and the ensuing tag by the pitcher which sparked things off.
Park dropped down the bunt, which was fielded by Angels pitcher Tim Belcher. Belcher tagged Park as he ran to first, but the Korean felt it was too hard. He threw a punch and then jumped in the air, swinging a knee at Belcher’s head.
The benches cleared and, while the brawl was nothing special, the image Park gave us really is.
Armando Benitez vs. Tino Martinez
May 19, 1998: Baltimore Orioles at Yankees
Armando Benitez may have started this one, but he was not the headline act by its end. He did what he did best and blew the lead, giving up a three-run jack to New York’s Bernie Williams. Annoyed, he drilled Tino Martinez in the back with a 99-mph fastball.
Yankees reliever Graeme Lloyd sprinted from the bullpen to the diamond, leapt at Benitez and started swinging. As the brawl continued, Darryl Strawberry punched the Orioles' closer into the dugout.
The Bean Brawl Game
August 12, 1984: San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
Three fights. Thirteen ejections. Five fans arrested.
This game had it all. You can see how it unfolded at the link below.
Michael Barrett Punches A.J. Pierzynski
May 16, 2006: Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox
With Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski standing on third, Brian Anderson flied to left. Pierzynski tagged up and came home, barrelling over Michael Barrett at the plate. He tapped the plate for the run and Barrett then grabbed him and punched him in the face. On deck, Scott Podsednik jumped on Barrett, whilst the Cubs’ John Mabry wrestled with Anderson. Four players were ejected after a quarter-hour delay.
Nolan Ryan Gets Robin Ventura in a Headlock
August 4, 1993: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
When Robin Ventura was sprinting towards the mound after getting hit in the shoulder, he must have fancied his chances. He was, after all, a full 20 years younger than Ryan who, at 46, would be retiring in just two months.
It did not play out the way he intended. Ryan grabbed him and in one of the most enduring images in baseball history, put him in a headlock and began pummelling at his head. He got off a half-dozen clean shots before their teammates joined the fray.