The 10 Most Vicious Brawls in Major League Baseball History
A fight in Major League Baseball is a rather rare occurrence—especially those that result in injury and bloodshed.
Regardless, baseball has seen its fair share of brawls over time. Whether fights are spontaneous or provoked, vicious or wimpy, bench clearing or bullpen emptying, they all share one characteristic—each is adrenaline pumping for the players and fans.
Back in April, the San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin took to the mound—but not to pitch. A few high elbows and a well-timed tackle resulted in a broken collarbone for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke.
Each season we witness beef between players turning into punches and inside pitches resulting in ejections. Baseball has yet to see its last brawl.
Here are the top 10 nastiest and adrenaline pumping fights in Major League Baseball history.
10. Mexico v. Canada, 2013
It may not be a Major League Baseball sanctioned game, but on May 9, a World Baseball Classic game turned into a straight slug fest.
It began with Mexico’s Luis Cruz telling pitcher Arnold Leon, “hit the next guy.”
Leon proceeded to drill Canada’s Rene Tosoni square in the spine—resulting in a bench clearing skirmish for the ages.
This brawl had it all—everything from bats being hurled from the on-deck circle at the dugouts to fan clashing in the stands. This fight reinforced the notion that these two countries do not like each other.
9. Mike Mussina v. Bill Hasselman, 1993
Catcher Bill Haselman may have been a little premature in charging the mound against 185-pound starter Mike Mussina, but his untimeliness resulted in a nasty brawl between the Orioles and Mariners on June 6, 1993.
Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner, Tino Martinez and Omar Vizquel were just some of the names to throw punches in sub-skirmishes that erupted as a result of the beaning.
The scuffle lasted about eight minutes and ended in manager Lou Piniella being ejected from the game. “Sweet” Lou made sure home was neatly covered in a thin coat of dirt before exiting the stadium.
Mariners starter Chris Bosio would fracture his collarbone in the brawl.
8. Pete Rose v. Bud Harrelson, 1973
“The Reds looked like me hitting,” said Bud Harrelson prior to Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS.
The simple sentence would ignite a feud between Harrelson and the Reds, putting the Mets second baseman on watch.
A heavy takeout slide from Pete Rose in the fifth inning resulted in punches instantaneously being thrown between the two. A tackle by Rose and before you knew it second base was covered by a massive brawl between the Mets and Reds.
The Reds would end up falling to the Mets in a blowout, 9-2.
7. Chris Volstad v. Nyjer Morgan, 2010
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan is known for his spunky attitude and controversial smack talk.
On Sept. 1, 2010, Morgan’s demeanor would get the best of him. After Marlins starting pitcher Chris Volstad threw behind the Nationals center fielder, Morgan took off from home plate.
A 15-5 blowout in the seventh inning, Morgan likely found it the perfect time to take all his energy out on the 230-pound Volstad.
Before Morgan could even land a punch on Volstad, first baseman Gaby Sanchez—who was running from first base—was able to clothesline Morgan into the ground.
The fight resulted in multiple ejections, some of which would be followed later by suspensions. Morgan received an eight game suspension from Major League Baseball for his role in the fight.
6. Marichal v. Roseboro, 1965
On August 22, 1965, Giants Hall of Famer Juan Marichal used more than just his fist in a fight against the Dodgers’ John Roseboro.
In the midst of a pennant race between the teams, Sandy Koufax was on the mound in a marquee pitching matchup. Roseboro, the Dodgers’ catcher, routinely threw the ball back to Koufax in the third inning. Unfortunately, Marichal—who was batting at the time—thought Roseboro was intentionally trying to hit him in the head on the throw back.
A brawl between Roseboro and Marichal ensued and, instead of a fists, Marichal chose to utilize his bat. After a few blows to the head of Roseboro, Koufax and his teammates were able to pry Marichal away from Roseboro, but not after the Dodgers' catcher was dripping in blood.
This was certainly one of the more surprising, nasty and disturbing fights recorded in MLB history.
5. Pedro Martinez v. Don Zimmer, 2003
Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox was one of the more memorable in the series—but for reasons other than good baseball.
The tumultuous day began after outfielder Karim Garcia was drilled in the back by a Pedro Martinez fastball. The Yanks retaliated in the bottom half of the inning with a high and inside pitch to the always feisty Manny Ramirez.
Ramirez charged and a bench clearing brawl broke out. In the chaos, Don Zimmer was tossed to the ground by Martinez—igniting even more side fights and bickering.
Roger Clemens would pitch well for the remainder of the game as the Yankees took Game 3, 4-3.
4. Alex Rodriguez v. Jason Varitek, 2004
If you’re a Yankee fan, you remember what occurred on July 24, 2004. The brawl goes down as one of the most significant and nasty in the history of the rivalry.
It began in the third inning when Alex Rodriguez was hit by a Bronson Arroyo high and inside fastball. Rodriguez immediately starting cursing at Arroyo, then directed his verbal abuse at the Red Sox catcher, Jason Varitek.
A shoving match turned into punches and the skirmish escalated into a team-on-team brawl.
Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon decided to throw a few punches at Yankees starting pitcher Tanyon Sturtze, which resulted in a bloodied ear. The dust settled and there were no major injuries during the scuffle.
The Red Sox would win the game 11-10.
3. Robin Ventura v. Nolan Ryan, 1993
Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Famer known for his high-90s fastball, would plunk White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura on Aug. 4, 1993.
Ventura thought about taking his base, but something snapped about ten feet up the line that triggered his attack on the 46-year-old Ryan.
A bench-clearing brawl ensued and Ryan was able to put Ventura in a headlock—pounding his head with a few crushing blows. However, Ventura would not quit.
He was able to take down Ryan and avoid any major injury.
Ryan pitched well and the Rangers were able to take the game, 5-2.
2. Armando Benitez v. Tino Martinez, 1998
Following a Bernie Williams home run on May 19, 1998, Armando Benitez learned a very valuable lesson: you don’t throw at Tino Martinez.
As soon as Benitez drilled one into Martinez’s spine, the Yankees quickly exited the dugout and one of the nastiest brawls in Yankee and MLB history began.
With everyone hitting everyone, the fight spilled across the field and into the Orioles’ dugout. Darryl Strawberry was the catalyst behind the dugout battle and went blow for blow with three Orioles. Jeff Nelson got his blows in on the side of the dugout as well.
The fight ended when Joe Torre made his way into the dugout and escorted Strawberry across the field and into the locker room.
The Yankees would end up taking the game, 9-5.
1. San Diego Padres v. Atlanta Braves, 1984
On Aug. 12, 1984, the longest, nastiest and most epic MLB brawl took place between the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves.
The tension began in the first when Braves starter Pascual Perez hit San Diego second baseman Alan Wiggins in the lower back. Words were exchanged between the two.
Padres starter Ed Whitson then attempted to hit Perez in his first trip to the plate. Perez proceeded to run around with the bat to defend himself after the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown.
Then, in the fourth, Perez was thrown at again. Whitson and manager Dick Williams were ejected by the umpire.
Reliever Greg Booker tried to hit Perez again in the sixth, but was unsuccessful and ejected.
Finally, in the eighth inning, reliever Craig Lefferts drilled Perez in the elbow and the brawl ensues. Punches are thrown, fans get involved and more players are ejected.
More fights and hit batsmen occurred in the ninth—including Goose Gossage beaning Donnie Moore.
The Braves took the game, if you even want to call it that, 5-3.
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