MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Worst Manager vs. Player Battles in MLB History
In any level of competition, there is bound to be friction between players and their superiors. Players will question decisions, and managers will argue with players.
In the MLB, there have been some gruesome fights between managers and their players for sure, both verbally and physically.
This list will count down the 25 worst battles between managers and players. Inspired by the current Joe Girardi/Jorge Posada, it is time that we take a look at some of the other good fights, and see how the current one compares.
25. Tony La Russa vs. Ron Gant, 1998
While managing the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa had a fight with Ron Gant.
During the feud, La Russa and Gant launched verbal assaults at one another.
Gant was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, and he then accused La Russa of bias, something La Russa denied, but it was obvious that it had been bias.
24. Larry Dierker vs. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, 2000
Sometime around 2000, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio were unhappy with manager Larry Dierker and the way he was running the Houston Astros.
The two allegedly attempted to undermine Dierker with snide comments to outsiders from the franchise in hopes to have Dierker dismissed from the team.
The two still vehemently deny trying to have him dismissed, although it can easily be assumed that that was their overarching goal.
23. Davey Johnson vs. Kevin Mitchell, 1993
Cincinnati Reds manager Davey Johnson was involved in an altercation with his outfielder Kevin Mitchell during the 1993 campaign.
Mitchell missed a game against the Florida Marlins, the team's first since the All-Star Break, and the Johnson was enraged.
Johnson called Mitchell into his office in order to suspend him for two games and fine him a day's pay (about $20,000).
Reporters were kept well-clear of the office, yet they could still hear the two men shouting their heads off at each other. General Manager Jim Bowden said there was an altercation, but he said no more.
22. Jim Leyland vs. Barry Bonds, 1991
This fight between two historic figures in the baseball world came during Spring Training of 1991.
Leyland first confronted Bonds about his lack of energy, and a shouting match ensued. Then, Leyland saw Bonds mock another Pirates coach behind his back, trying to be funny, and Leyland lost it.
The two went at it for the entirety of Spring Training and continued off of the cameras in the regular season.
After that, Leyland won a World Series ring with the Marlins, and Bonds never did. Who's laughing now, Barry?
21. Jimy Williams vs. Carl Everett, 2001
Boston Red Sox's manager Jimy Williams got into a public nightmare with player Carl Everett during the 2001 season.
Everett was ejected in a game and bumped an umpire which led to a 10-game suspension. Everett charged the umpire, while being restrained by teammates and coaches.
It was when Williams was holding Everett that he broke free, and Everett later said that Williams wanted him to attack the umpire.
That led to a shouting match in the clubhouse and then at press conferences to the media. Everett eventually started skipping practices and Williams was fired.
Funnily enough, Everett was kept instead of Williams, and Everett was only on the team for another half of a season before being traded.
20. Jorge Posada vs. Joe Girardi, 2011
The most recent fight between a player and manager, and the one that inspired this list. As if we need reminding about what happened, here is the timeline.
First, Posada was dropped to the ninth spot in the batting lineup against the Red Sox, and he asked out because he could not take that insult. Posada then asked Girardi for a day off, and the two left it at that.
Brian Cashman called for an in-game briefing and told reporters that Posada was out of the lineup for non-injury related issues. Cashman essentially said: 'you embarrass us, we’ll do the same.'
Next, Jorge's wife Laura posted on Twitter that Posada had a bad back and that was why he could not play.
Enraged, the Yankees management and ownership squashed this, and Posada admitted that his back issues were minor.
The saga has continued in front of the media, and for a full account, click here.
19. Yogi Berra vs. Phil Linz, 1964
Phil Linz was only a backup infielder for the New York Yankees, but he was also a big harmonica player.
One day, on a bus ride after the Yankees lost their fourth straight game, Linz was playing his harmonica when manager Yogi Berra told him to stop.
Linz decided it would be a good idea to show off his arm and he threw the harmonica at Berra who deflected it and it cut another player's leg.
Linz apparently also challenged Berra to a fight to see if he could play his harmonica whenever he liked, but no fight was reported.
The incident led to Berra's firing at the end of the season, and a $200 fine for Linz. Ironically, Linz made 100 times his fine from a deal with a harmonica company.
18. Whitey Herzog vs. Garry Templeton, 1981
Cardinals manager White Herzog pulled Garry Templeton from a game a Busch Stadium on Ladies' Day.
During the game, Templeton flipped off fans on two separate occasions, and this led Herzog to pull him. Herzog describes the aftermath in his book:
"When he got to the dugout, I reached out and pulled him down the steps, and if the other players hadn't come between us, I guess we'd have had a pretty good fight then and there. I'd never been as mad at any player."
The two definitely started to fight, but it was broken up. Templeton was later traded for Ozzie Smith, and the rest is history.
17. Joe Torre vs. Alex Rodriguez, 2004-2008
These two never fought in public (who would in front of the New York media?), but they had their differences.
Torre thought A-Rod to be a pretty boy and to be Derek Jeter's lap-dog. “A-Fraud” (teammates' name for Rodriguez) apparently asked for a clubhouse assistant to run errands for him.
The two had their differences, and it seems as though the team hushed it all up, but Torre came out with them in his book, which he wrote after his managerial days with New York.
16. Ozzie Guillen vs. Bobby Jenks, 2010-
The hotheaded, short-tempered Ozzie Guillen was bound to end up here, and Bobby Jenks helped him along the way.
In the 2010 season, Guillen blamed Jenks for the team missing the playoffs, saying that he did not carry his weight. The two men argued, and then Guillen's son worked his way into the fight.
Guillen's son made fun of Jenks, who returned the favor. Jenks taunted his now-former manager, who retaliated.
Jenks may pitch for the Boston Red Sox now, but we can't say with certainty that the feud has ended.
15. Oscar Vitt vs. Hal Trosky, 1940
Vitt kept his team's spirits low by constantly ripping them, and they eventually had enough. The Indians banded together to completely ignore Vitt and his signals in games. The result was that they team became a soap opera.
Hal Trotsky was one of the players who was upset by it, and he presented a petition in asking for the Vitt to be fired in June.
It didn't work, so Trosky then led his teammates who reportedly even tried to fake fights among themselves in hopes of drawing in Vitt in an attempt to beat up or disgrace him.
Trotsky also told the press that the Indians could be a great team...all they had to do was fire Vitt.
I told you they were a soap opera.
14. John Gibbons vs. Shea Hillenbrand, 2006
The Toronto Blue Jays had their problems with manager John Gibbons and corner infielder Shea Hillenbrand.
Apparently, in July 2006, Hillenbrand wrote “the ship is sinking,” on the clubhouse bulletin board. This led Gibbons to challenge Hillenbrand to a fight in the clubhouse, but Hillenbrand declined.
The two almost came to blows, and it is thought that that is why Hillenbrand was traded to San Francisco after that.
It was thought that Hillenbrand was the problem at this point, but it is now expected that it was Gibbons' fault (as a later slide will show).
13. Earl Weaver vs. Jim Palmer, 1968-1984
These two were utterly ridiculous, and the entire time they were both with the Orioles was one big fight.
Manager Earl Weaver was known for his crazy ejections and tantrums, while Pitcher Jim Palmer was an early prima donna in baseball. The two were doomed to fight before they even met.
The two never got into a true fistfight, but during their 17-year feud, the two were always fighting verbally, especially talking about each other to the press.
Palmer was quoted saying that: “the only thing that Earl knows about a curveball is that he couldn't hit it.” Weaver was quoted saying that he had given Palmer “more chances than my ex-wife.”
The two were always going at it, and despite having a winning record in every season of their fight, the two could not get along.
12. John Gibbons vs. Ted Lilly, 2006
This is John Gibbons' second slide, and this is the slide that shows that is may have been he who was the problem, not necessarily Hillenbrand in their 2006 fight.
This fight was brought about because Gibbons pulled starter Ted Lilly after he allowed seven earned runs to allow the Oakland Athletics. This allowed Oakland to cut their eight-run deficit to one, and they eventually won the game 12-10.
When Gibbons came out to take out Lilly he apparently provoked him in some way. On the way back to the dugout, trainers attest seeing Gibbons shove Lilly, and then cameras caught Gibbons wiping blood from his face.
This leads to the assumption that Gibbons started the fight by provoking and pushing Lilly, and Lilly retaliated by punching his manager in the face. That's a lot happening because Lilly gave up seven earned.
11. Miller Huggins vs. Babe Ruth, 1923
Babe Ruth is the greatest player of all-time...but he is also one of the craziest.
Apparently fed up with manager Miller Huggins during his time with the Yankees, Ruth and Huggins had many arguments.
The argument escalated up to the point where Ruth allegedly picked Huggins up by his ankles and dangled him outside of a window of a moving train.
I told you he was crazy. Ruth had a serious drinking problem, and this probably played a role in the feud.
10. Billy Martin vs. Reggie Jackson, 1977
In one of Billy Martin's most famous fights, he pulled star outfielder Reggie Jackson out of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park for dogging a play.
Jackson confronted Martin and told him that he just made a mistake but that he was trying hard.
The two got into a shouting match during which Martin called Jackson a liar, and they two went at it, Martin needing to be restrained from attacking Jackson.
The best part: the two fought on a national broadcast.
Source: Sports Illustrated
9. Eddie Mathews vs. Davey Johnson, 1973
In 1973, Eddie Mathews was manager of the Atlanta Braves, and Davey Johnson was his second baseman.
Apparently, Johnson had gotten into a fight with a teammate, and Mathews called him into his hotel room. Mathews challenged Johnson to a fight, and Johnson initially declined, saying: “I can't hit you! You're my manager!”
Mathews told Johnson to fight him man-to-man. Johnson says that he lightly punched Mathews on his arm, and that was all at first.
When Johnson saw Mathews pull back for a full-on punch, Johnson hit him square in the face, throwing him across the room.
Teammates jumped in the middle of the fight, and Mathews could never retaliate.
8. Frank Lucchesi vs. Lenny Randle, 1977
As manager of the Rangers, Frank Lucchesi found out that it's a bad idea to bench second baseman Lenny Randle.
Randle had slumped to .224 after batting .276 and .302 in his first two seasons, and rookie Bump Wills had surpassed him on the depth chart before Spring Training. Randle thought that that was an utter insult, and he threatened to quit the team until teammates convinced him not to.
On the subject of Randle quitting, Lucchesi later said that he wished that he had left, and that “"I'm getting sick and tired of guys making $80,000 a year and moaning and groaning about their jobs." He also said, "I'm sick and tired of these punks saying play me or trade me. Let 'em go find a job...What's his beef? Wills playing second? Well, that my prerogative as a manager."
Randle did not take kindly to this, and he eventually went after Lucchesi. A few days later, Randle went up to Lucchesi and punched him in the face until he was on the ground and then a few more times for good measure.
Lucchesi suffered a concussion, a broken cheekbone and a badly bloodied lip. This led to Randle being suspended and eventually traded to the New York Mets.
I guess Randle got the trade he wanted.
7. Leo Durocher vs. Arky Vaughan, 1943
Arky Vaughan, shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers, was a quiet gentleman and a guaranteed All-Star, but his composure was disturbed by his manager, Leo Durocher.
Their difference was due to Durocher's fight with Bobo Newsome in the clubhouse. After the fight, Vaughan handed Durocher his rolled up jersey and told him to shove it up his...well to shove into a place that would be impossible.
This led to a battle in the clubhouse, and while it is unsure what exactly happened down there, we know that Vaughan retired for three years after the skirmish with his manager.
Perhaps he did not like how his manager changed him, perhaps it was more. All we know is that a player at the peak of his career walked away for three years because of Durocher.
Source: Baseball Statistics
6. Billy Martin vs. Thurman Munson, 1979
Just months before his early death, New York Yankees' catcher and captain, Thurman Munson got into a fight with his manager, Billy Martin.
The fight was over Munson's behavior on a plane ride with the Yankees. The fight is best described in Rich “Goose” Gossage's autobiography The Goose is Loose (which can be bought here):
"One time Munson's clowning around on a plane got him in trouble with Billy Martin. We were on a commercial flight back to New York, and Thurm was playing Neil Diamond on his portable tape deck. He had on his headset and sang along in his off-key fashion.
"Every so often he'd pull out the earphone jack, and blaring through the cabin would be `Crackling Rose' or `Solitary Man' or `Sweet Caroline.'
"After a few minutes, Martin came back to check on the commotion. Billy, who had been in the sauce, apparently didn't have the same appreciation for Neil Diamond.
"Martin told Munson to can the music. Thurman told Billy what he can do by throwing some profanities in his direction.
"Martin flew into a rage, calling Thurman some uncomplimentary names and accusing him of being less than an ideal leader for his teammates. Munson went back to listening to Neil Diamond, ignoring the expletives.
"After the plane landed and we checked into our hotel, I went to hang out in Munson's room. We were lounging around when Billy called from the lobby to say he was coming up to settle the matter.
"I volunteered to leave so they could work out their differences in private, but Munson told me to stay put, `Billy's not coming up here,' he assured me. `If he does, I'm going to kick his a**.'
"Thurman was right; Billy never showed."
5. Don Wakamatsu vs. Chone Figgins, 2010
This fight is relatively recent, and it is one that you might remember.
In the midst of a historically terrible season, the Seattle Mariners had everything going wrong, including Milton Bradley walking out of the stadium before a game ended because he was benched.
In a game against the Boston Red Sox in mid-July, manager Don Wakamatsu and his second baseman Chone Figgins started a brawl.
Perhaps it was the fact that the Mariners were about 20 games under .500 already. Perhaps it was the fact that as their best acquisition, Figgins was not living up to the hype.
Perhaps it was the heat of July. Perhaps it was a combination of factors. No matter what started the fight, it was exactly what the Mariners did not need.
The fight started as a shouting match between Wakamatsu and Figgins across the dugout, but eventually escalated into a short-but-intense fracas.
The two men went after each other and players and coaches needed to restrain the two, but were unsuccessful.
During the fight, one player climbed over others to get to Figgins, and Jose Lopez's jersey was ripped off of his back.
The fight is considered a factor in Wakamatsu's being fired less than a month later.
4. Billy Martin vs. Dave Boswell, 1969
This fight of Martin's was not with the New York Yankees, but with the Minnesota Twins, and the skirmish was with pitcher Dave Boswell.
According to Martin, he heard that Boswell was having a fight with Bob Allison in the parking lot, and he went to sort it out. Martin says that Boswell was beating up on Allison, and then turned and came after Martin himself.
According to Boswell, he was trying to hold Allison down because Allison had thrown the first punch, and then Martin came out and punched him in the face.
Either way, the fight led to Boswell needing 20 stitches and a trip to the hospital, while Martin bruised his rib and needed seven stitches on his knuckle.
The fight left Boswell needing the hospital for a while, and the story was hushed up while the Twins left him behind. The story only came out when Martin told reporters about the fight, and how that was why Boswell was not with the team during a pennant race.
Source: Coffeyville Whirlwind
3. Lou Piniella vs. Rob Dibble, 1992
This fight was by far the easiest to see coming. The Cincinnati Reds' hotheaded manager Lou Piniella and his belligerent closer Rob Dibble got into it one day.
Piniella, known for tantrums and tirades towards umpires (some of which can be seen here), and Dibble known for throwing a ball over 400 feet into the stands and hitting a pregnant lady, the two combined were a ticking time-bomb.
The fight began in a game when Piniella used Steve Foster to close a game against the Atlanta Braves, which they won. Apparently Piniella told reporters that Dibble could not go that day, but Dibble said he was fine and that Piniella was a liar. This led to an all-out fight in the clubhouse during which both men had to be separated, and both suffered minor injuries.
I'm just glad that the team didn't lose; the fight would have been so much worse.
Source: Sports Illustrated
2. Art Shires vs. Lena Blackburne, 1929
Lena Blackburne was a 1920's man in the fact that he was bold, abrasive, and could party. These characteristics led to a few problems, two of which were with manager Art Shires, the first of which was the worst.
Blackburne broke into the league in 1928, and played his way into the captain's role of the Sox. Teams usually look to their captains to provide a good example for other players, but Blackburne did nothing of the sort.
In 1929, Blackburne came to batting practice wearing a red felt hat. Shires told he that he had to remove the hat, and Blackburne refused. This led to a shouting match and eventually the two had a fist fight in the dugout. During the fight Shires knocked out Blackburne in the clubhouse.
The reason that Shires, a manager, was able to knock out a player in his prime was because Shires scheduled multiple professional boxing matches for himself around that time because of the Great Depression, giving him the upper hand.
Source: Baseball Library
1. Billy Martin vs. Ed Whitson, 1985
This feud ended in a fistfight between Yankees' manager Billy Martin and starting pitcher Ed Whitson.
The story begin on a Friday night. Martin scratched Whitson as the starter, telling that “Whatchamacallit,” (Whitson) had a sore arm, but this was a surprise to Whitson, who had not told Martin he couldn't go.
On Saturday night, Martin was having drinks at the Cross Keys lounge. A little after midnight, Martin was told that Whitson was having an argument with another man, and Martin went to help him. When Martin got there he claimed that Whitson turned and put his hands on him, but Whitson said that Martin started the fight. Either way, the fight escalated.
The two men were separated by other Yankees after they fought for a bit. Whitson claimed that Martin "sucker-punched" him, but Martin said "That guy's crazy. I just tried to help him. What's the matter with him? Can't he hold his liquor?"
While being restrained the two kept fighting verbally until Whitson broke free, pinned Martin against a wall and kicked in a place that no man should ever be kicked....
Whitson was eventually taken outside, and Martin followed him. When Whitson caught sight of Martin he came at him and the two threw each other to the ground. The two fought for a bit more and they needed to be separated again. Whitson screeched at Martin, "You've tried to bury me here; you're trying to ruin me." The fight finally ended.
Later, Whitson was sent home by the Yanks indefinitely, and Martin was diagnosed with a broken arm. The fight was considered an aftermath of the scratching, and this fight was incredible.
Source: Sports Illustrated