MLB: The Top 20 Player-Manager Feuds in History

Rob KelleyCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2011

MLB: The Top 20 Player-Manager Feuds in History

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    Billy Martin of the New York Yankees looks on during a game.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The players and managers are getting ready for the 2011 MLB season, and I can guarantee you that none of them want to end up on this notorious list one day. Although with the New York Yankees always in the headlines and considering they could have a "down season," their frustration could boil over at some point this season.

    As you will find out, it would not be the first time.

    What if the St. Louis Cardinals suffer a losing streak? Could it cause Tony LaRussa to get into an altercation with Albert Pujols, figuring he will be playing elsewhere next season anyway?

    Hey, Ozzie Guillen is still managing the Chicago White Sox, and we all know he loves seeing his name on these types of lists. He always gives us hope.

    Chance are, this will be a mild season with no physicality. It is not as if baseball is a long season or anything.

    Regardless of what happens in 2011, there have been many memorable feuds between MLB players and their managers. That is, when they are not battling it out with the umpires. After all, most umps feel as if they are the main attraction.

    Don't you take out a mortgage to go and see one game per season just to watch some out of shape umpire throw out your favorite player in the second inning because he sneezed funny? Can I truly be alone?

    Either way, baseball has given us plenty to work with, so without further ado, here is a look at The Top 20 Player-Manager Feuds in MLB History.

    Enjoy, and make sure to keep your hands to yourselves! 

No. 20: Jim Leyland Vs. Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Jim Leyland managed the Pittsburgh Pirates when Barry Bonds was only smacking 30 home runs a season. It was also when Bonds' head did not make him look like a runaway from Easter Island.

    Even though it was before the time where Bonds all of a sudden magically got bigger, he still had some rage. The problem always was, he thought he was a funny guy.

    Leyland didn't take kindly to the fact that Bonds decided to mock one of the Pirates coaches one day in spring training back in 1991. This was not like when Bonds and his teammates mocked Paula Abdul in their American Idol spoof. 

    Although, that wasn't all that funny either.

    But the cameras were there, and Leyland did not take kindly to Bonds' actions. Then again, how many people actually have?

    We all know what happened in the end. After failing to reach the World Series in Pittsburgh for a couple of more seasons, Bonds signed with the San Francisco Giants, where he still never won a World Series.

    Leyland managed the Florida Marlins to a World Series title in 1997.

    Sorry, Barry.

No. 19: Jimy Williams Vs. Carl Everett, Boston Red Sox

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    Casual fans who are somewhat new to the game may not believe that the Boston Red Sox used to be a very poorly run MLB franchise.

    They can thank Dan Duquette for majority of that, although he did bring in some decent talent to set the team up for their strong run over the past decade.

    But he also defended a player who had a volatile personality instead of his manager during an altercation in 2000. Everett was ejected from the game after bumping an umpire, which resulted in a 10-game suspension. But it was after that when things really became heated.

    Everett was being restrained by teammates and coaches and broke free when Williams was trying to hold him back.

    That led to yelling, which led to public shouting, which led to Everett skipping practices and fighting with all of the coaches and managers.

    Eventually, Williams was fired because Duquette stood up for Everett instead. Everett was also traded after another season. He had heated battles with his teammates for another season.

    It was probably because they said they believed in dinosaurs, which Everett said did not exist because they weren't in the Bible.

    Oh, Carl. 

No. 18: Yogi Berra Vs. Phil Linz, New York Yankees

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    You knew it was just a matter of time before the New York Yankees ended up on this list. Get used to seeing some of them repeatedly throughout, especially one person.

    I'll let the speculation begin.

    Phil Linz was an infielder for the Yankees when Yogi Berra had retired and decided to manage the team. Back in 1964, let's just say a certain incident took place on the bus that didn't have anyone buzzing.

    Linz began to play a harmonica solo of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" after the Yankees lost their fourth straight game to the White Sox in 1964. I know what you're all saying. You love that song, and that is fine. But apparently, Berra is not quite as big of a fan.

    Berra popped up from his seat and kindly asked whoever was playing the song to stop. Well, maybe it was not all that kind. 

    Linz flung the instrument at Berra while challenging him to what can only be perceived as a harmonica playing contest. Berra threw up his hand and deflected the harmonica toward Joe Pepitone. The harmonica cut him on the leg.

    The shouting match finally died down without any serious blows being landed. The Yankees levied a $200 fine on Linz, who ironically profited from the incident because the publicity attracted a $20,000 contract from a harmonica firm. Berra was fired the following season.

    Ah, only in baseball.

No. 17: Oscar Vitt Vs. Hal Trosky, Cleveland Indians

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    I wonder if this is why the creators of Major League decided to use the Indians as their lovable losers?

    Although, back in 1940, I'm not sure they were all quite as lovable.

    Manager Oscar Vitt modeled his managerial skills after one of his former teammates. Normally, there is nothing wrong with that, but when that teammate just happened to be Ty Cobb, one can imagine why that may create controversy.

    Vitt had labeled his team as the "Cry Baby Indians." Oddly enough, the players did not respond so well.

    He constantly mocked and disparaged his players during the season, and the players had enough. So much that they banded together and decided to ignore him. They disregarded Vitt's instructions and even signs in game situations.

    Hal Trosky presented a petition in June asking for the ouster of Vitt. It didn't work, so Trosky then led the mutineers who reportedly even tried to fake fights among themselves in hopes of drawing in Vitt in an attempt to beat up or disgrace him.

    Vitt was finally fired at the end of the season.

    The Indians, however, are still struggling. But with other teams at least. Not each other.

    Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

No. 16: Whitey Herzog Vs. Garry Templeton, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Whitey Herzog had plenty of run-ins in his days as a manager. Yet this one was one of the best things to ever happen to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    But I'll get to that shortly.

    Templeton twice made obscene gestures to fans who were booing him on "Ladies' Day." Maybe he didn't like the ladies, but it was never reported.

    Herzog pulled Templeton from the game as soon as he witnessed what was taking place in the outfield. In his book, Herzog went on to describe the incident in further detail.

    "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," Herzog wrote.

    But things couldn't have ended better for the Cardinals, who traded Templeton to the San Diego Padres.

    They received Ozzie Smith in exchange.

No. 15: Ozzie Guillen Vs. Bobby Jenks, Chicago White sox

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    Believe it or not, it was not always hugs and pats on the backside for Guillen and Jenks in their days in Chicago.

    This one got heated. It got ugly. It got huge. 

    And I'm not even talking about Jenks' goatee or his stomach.

    Guillen called out his pitcher and said he was one of the main reasons why the team failed to reach the playoffs. Then, kids got involved. 

    Guillen's son made fun of Jenks, who returned the favor. Jenks ripped his now former manager, who ripped him right back. All the meanwhile making some threats against his former closer as well.

    Jenks now pitches for the other Sox - the red ones in Boston. Yet the feud continues.

    How many pitches will it take before Jenks throws at a member of the White Sox this season?

    He may even fire one off into Chicago's dugout.

No. 14: Joe Torre Vs. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 01:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees hugs manager, Joe Torre, after winning the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on October 1, 2005 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Yankees won the game 8-4.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Ge
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    How can a list of some of the most hated players and managers in baseball history not include Alex Rodriguez?

    It never will as long as I'm in charge. Not that I am, but I digress.

    This one actually got uglier after Torre left the Yankees and published his book about his years as the Yankees' manager.

    Evidently, Joe wouldn't feed Alex popcorn while they were watching a boxing match. I'm just saying.

    Torre got personal in his attacks against Rodriguez, who he says was called "A-Fraud" by his teammates after he developed a "Single White Female"-like obsession with team captain Derek Jeter and asked for a personal clubhouse assistant to run errands for him.

    Was that all?

    They never argued publicly. They never fought in the media. But I felt obliged to have Rodriguez on a list such as this.

    It just fits.

No. 13: Billy Martin Vs. Reggie Jackson, New York Yankees

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    And there he is, finally.

    How many of you thought it would have taken this long to see former New York Yankees' manager Billy Martin on this list?

    Spoiler alert: It won't be the last.

    After Martin perceived Jackson to have dogged a play in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox in 1977, he immediately pulled his star outfielder from the game.

    Although no punches were thrown, which is actually kind of rare when it comes to Martin, this fight happened to take place during a national broadcast.

    When Jackson confronted him, Martin had to be restrained from attacking Jackson.

    The Yankees won the World Series that season, and Martin was fired and re-hired more than any other manager.

No. 12: Miller Huggins Vs. Babe Ruth, New York Yankees

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    Familiarity can breed contempt. It can also breed success. In the Yankees' case, it often breeds both.

    Back in the 1923 season, Babe Ruth and manager Miller Huggins apparently had enough of each other. So much to the point where it was reported that Ruth dangled the much smaller Huggins by the heels upside down out of a moving train's window before restoring him upright to safety.

    Now, if that doesn't say love, then I don't know what does. After all, Babe saved the man's life.

    Sure, he was the one who put it in jeopardy, but we shouldn't pick nits.

    It may never have happened. Then again, Babe was quite a big drinker, so I would never put it past him.

No. 11: John Gibbons Vs. Ted Lilly, Toronto Blue Jays

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    No pitcher likes to ever get pulled from a game on any level. I never did in school, and I know of at least one other person who shares my sentiment.

    Of course, I never felt the need to bloody any of my manager's faces.

    Well, I felt the need, but it didn't seem in my best interest at the time.

    Ted Lilly may have not felt the same way about John Gibbons when the two were with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Lilly was pulled in the third inning of a game in 2006, when the Oakland Athletics scored seven runs to close to 8-7 on the way to a 12-10 win. Gibbons ripped Lilly on the mound, as the pitcher refused to give him the ball.

    When Lilly finally did leave the mound, Gibbons followed him. Trainers saw Gibbons push Lilly first and a camera later showed Gibbons and the trainer wipe the manager's nose with a towel.

    Yet everyone maintains that no punches were thrown.

No. 10: John Gibbons Vs. Shea Hillenbrand, Toronto Blue Jays

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    TORONTO - MAY 20:  Shea Hillenbrand #29 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the Washington Nationals during the Interleague game at Rogers Centre on May 20, 2005 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays beat the Nationals 6-1.  (Photo by Dave Sandford
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    And you thought that Billy Martin would have been the first repeat offender on this list.

    File that one under curveball.

    This incident actually took place before the one with Lilly, but more is known to be certain on this one, although no physicality ever took place.

    Gibbons challenged Hillenbrand to a fight in July after the infielder wrote on the clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was sinking." Hillenbrand declined to fight, and was later traded to San Francisco.

    It was first thought that Hillenbrand was at fault. He had a bit of a reputation as being a bit of a whiner in Boston and Arizona. But once Gibbons went after Lilly, it was believed that maybe he was not the best chance to lead a Major League Baseball team.

    Even if that team happened to be the Blue Jays. Maybe Gibbons could have been a goon for the Maple Leafs instead. He certainly had very little success in baseball.

    Oddly enough, Gibbons remained in charge of Toronto until June of the 2008 season. He never got any better.

No. 9: Earl Weaver Vs. Jim Palmer, Baltimore Orioles

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    If these two were still involved in baseball today, there is no doubt in my mind that someone would have created a sitcom regarding their working relationship.

    That is, if it actually did work.

    Everyone knows about some of Weaver's legendary battles with umpires, which led to so many ejections. But he had it out with one of his star pitchers on more than one occasion as well.

    They battled each other all the time. Things may have not come to blows, but the verbal warfare brought a lot of attention. Palmer once said of Weaver that  "The only thing that Earl knows about a curve ball is he couldn't hit it."

    When Palmer's career was winding down, Weaver once proclaimed that he had given Palmer "more chances than my ex-wife."

    It was difficult to expect these two to get along. Palmer always had a bit of an ego and was one of the earlier prima donnas of baseball. Weaver was a no-nonsense type of guy where it was his way or no way. The fact that they were able to get along well enough even to co-exist and still win was impressive in my book.

No. 8: Frank Lucchesi Vs. Lenny Randle, Texas Rangers

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    Don't bench Lenny Randle.

    That message was received loud and clear by Frank Lucchesi, although he still felt that it was his call what to do with his ball club.

    In 1977, Randle was struggling and therefore benched in favor of rookie Bump Willis. Randle became so fed up that he threatened to quit the team and take his pathetic batting average with him.

    Teammates stopped him and convinced him to remain with the Rangers. That led Lucchesi to talk to reporters about his unhappiness, and we all know that rarely ends well.

    Lucchesi said of Randle that it was "too damn bad somebody stopped him from leaving. I'm tired of these punks saying play me or trade me. Anyone who makes $80,000 a year and gripes and moans all spring is not going to get a tear out of me."

    I have to say, I actually do agree with him about that one.

    To no great surprise, the situation escalated a couple of days later.

    It was reported by teammates that Randle clocked Lucchesi a couple of times and clobbered him two or three more times while he was on his way to the ground. Lucchesi lay on the ground in a pool of his own blood, suffering from a broken cheekbone, a concussion and a lacerated lip and would have to be operated on in the future.

    You think your employees are insubordinate, huh?

    Lucchesi would call the entire ordeal a "sneak attack," and that his hands were in his pockets, rendering him unable to fight back.

    Randle was suspended for 30 days and traded to the Mets before his suspension was up.

No. 7: Billy Martin Vs. Thurman Munson, New York Yankees

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    This one was not at all meant to tarnish the image of former Yankees captain Thurman Munson. It is to illustrate the fact that Billy Martin could argue with anyone and to perhaps solve a mystery for Boston Red Sox fans.

    Munson was a gentleman. Martin was insane. You can see where this is going.

    Rich "Goose" Gossage wrote in his autobiography about an incident involving Martin and Munson. This took place during the 1979 season, just months before Munson's untimely death in a plane crash.

    Gossage wrote that, "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 Muson 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."

    The Red Sox play 'Sweet Caroline' at home games in the eighth inning. They can say all they want that it was random and just stuck around during a winning streak.

    But don't you think that it is the least bit ironic that it was also a song that could have caused Yankees' in-house fighting?

    Hardly.

No. 6: Leo Durocher Vs. Arky Vaughan, Brooklyn Dodgers

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    "Leo the Lip" did not get his nickname because he had a small upper lip. He got it because he always had something to say about everything.

    And everyone.

    Arky Vaughan was a perennial All-Star during his playing days and was one of the greatest shortstops in the history of the game. He was also one of the quiet stars in a star-studded lineup.

    Yet even Durocher could get a rise out of Vaughan.

    In 1942, following an argument with a teammate, Vaughan threw his uniform at Durocher to set up a historic battle beneath the Ebbets Field stands.

    There are conflicting reports of what actually took place, but Vaughan decided to retire from the game while still playing at an elite level instead of playing any longer for Durocher.

No. 5: Don Wakamatsu Vs. Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners

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    Don't be fooled by the photo. It was not all handshakes and hugs for these two.

    This one is the most recent feud to make the list, but it still carried some heat.

    In a game against the Boston Red Sox just last season, a fight erupted in the dugout between the manager and their new prized acquisition who had struggled throughout the season.

    Frustrations boiled over, and both men succumbed to the pressure of losing.

    Following the fracas, Figgins was pulled from the game.

    A month later, Wakamatsu was fired.

    So who got the better of who in this one?

    .

No. 4: Lou Piniella Vs. Rob Dibble, Cincinnati Reds

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    Anyone who could not have seen this one coming mus not have truly known anything about either of these men.

    Piniella was known for his temper back in his days as a player, and he certainly did not mellow out in his days as a manager.

    Dibble was a hot head who took nothing into consideration but his own feelings.

    We all know about Piniella and some of his legendary battles with umpires, but Dibble was at least equally as bad.

    The former Reds' closer tossed a ball over 400 feet into the stands one day that struck a pregnant lady. He got in fights with teammates and opposing players.

    But in 1992, one of the "Nasty Boys" got into it with Piniella after a game in the clubhouse.

    The two wrestled in the clubhouse following a Reds victory over the Atlanta Braves.

    What would they have done following a loss?

    Piniella used Steve Foster to pick up the save, saying that Dibble wasn't available and that a tight shoulder was the cause for the switch.

    Dibble said he was fine.

    Whether his shoulder was fine or not before the ninth inning, it was no doubt a lot more sore following the altercation.

No. 3: Billy Martin Vs. Dave Boswell, Minnesota Twins

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    See, it wasn't the Yankees or George Steinbrenner who turned Martin into an animal. He was always crazy.

    This fight between Martin and his pitcher was ugly. 

    Martin had a bit of a drinking problem. He also described himself as some who was not good at losing. He also had quite a temper. Mix all of the volatile attributes, and you have the potential for a messy situation.

    That is exactly what it was in 1969. To make the scene picture perfect, it took place in a bar.

    So many of Martin's scenes in life took place in a bar.

    That is where you can generally find people who love to drink.

    Martin actually began the outing as an innocent bystander. He was watching a fight between Boswell and teammate Bob Allison. When one of the players inadvertently struck Martin, he felt as if he had no other choice but to get involved.

    Ah, Billy.

    Martin did get involved and decided to floor Boswell. He beat him so badly while two other people were holding him down that the pitcher needed 20 stitches.

No. 2: Lena Blackburne Vs. Art Shires, Chicago White sox

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    Shires was a rookie third baseman for the Sox in 1928. He wasted no time to make his name known throughout the organization.

    Although his way of doing so would have to be highly frowned upon in this day and age.

    Shires was cocky. He was abrasive. He had to respect for authority. He also had no problem expressing those feelings.

    In that season, these two were involved in two separate fights. Neither one was for the faint of heart.

    The first took place after Shires refused to remove a red felt hat that he wore to the plate during batting practice, and the second happened when Blackburne discovered the rookie drinking bootleg whiskey in his Philadelphia hotel room.

    Shires was knocked out by Blackburne in the first fight in the clubhouse, but it was said that the rookie got his revenge in the second brawl that took place in a hotel room.

    I have a feeling that these two were not on one another's Christmas list.

No. 1: Billy Martin Vs. Ed Whitson, New York Yankees

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    Was there any conceivable way that Billy Martin did not end up No. 1 on this list?

    Not in my book.

    In his playing days and early managerial career, Martin got the better of most of his opponents, regardless of their physical attributes. Martin himself was no giant.

    Martin was under six feet tall and weighed about 165 pounds soaken wet. He was not a big man, but he backed down from no one.

    Maybe he should have in 1985.

    In a bizarre day that began at a hotel bar and then proceeded to the lobby and third floor, Whitson broke one of Martin's arms and two of his ribs after (according to Whitson) Martin "sucker-punched" him. Martin said Whitson started the fight.

    In either case, an unnamed Yankee source told the New York Times that an official investigation revealed that "Billy pursued Whitson to the lobby, then to the front door and then in the hall on the third floor. And then Billy tried to get Willie Horton to beat up on Whitson."

    Even the best of fighters needs to know when to call it a career. Martin may have found out one day too late.