MLB Power Rankings: The 20 Biggest Dugout Fights in Baseball History
The 2011 Major League Baseball season thus far has seen some surprises in terms of some teams performing better than expected, others not getting off to the start expected of them, and various players who got off to sluggish starts.
But in terms of tempers and flareups, this season has been relatively calm, with no epic bench-clearing brawls or in-team scuffles as of yet.
With a 25-man roster for each team, it would go against the laws of human nature to expect each-and-every team to always have complete harmony within the dugout or clubhouse. Sometimes tempers will flare just based on the competitive nature of players, and other times scuffles may be triggered by what is deemed as childish behavior.
In any event, since the season has been so quiet thus far, we thought we would recall some of the more famous dugout/clubhouse brawls that have happened in major league.
Here then is a list of the top 20 biggest dugout/clubhouse fights in MLB history.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.
20. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Garza/Dioner Navarro, June 8, 2008
On June 8, 2008, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza was on the mound to face the Texas Rangers, with a chance to give the Rays their first series sweep on the road for the season. In the fourth inning, Garza served up a pitch to No. 9 hitter German Duran that Duran hit out of the park, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
Immediately after the play, Rays’ catcher Dioner Navarro approached the mound and got into a heated discussion with Garza, with both players shoving their mitts into each others’ face.
After the inning ended, Garza approached Navarro in the dugout, and the two got into a major scuffle that carried into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.
Navarro was apparently ticked off that Garza had shaken off two signs before serving up the home-run pitch to Duran.
19. Atlanta Braves: Davey Johnson/Eddie Mathews, 1973
Eddie Mathews, who was a legend in Milwaukee and Atlanta during his playing days with the Braves, was the manager for the team in 1973. Davey Johnson was his second baseman at the time. Johnson had apparently gotten into a little bit of a row with teammate Mike Lum.
When Mathews heard about it, he invited Johnson into his hotel room and challenged him to a fight. Johnson later recalled that he wanted no part of the fight with his manager.
According to the Baltimore Sun:
"I said, 'I can't hit you. You're my manager.' He said, 'No, hit me. Let's go. Man to man.'"
Johnson remembers nudging Mathews, a big man. A tap. But when he saw his manager reaching back to throw a roundhouse punch, Johnson popped Mathews squarely, knocking him across the room. Others jumped in, and Mathews never got a chance to fire back.
Johnson, who later managed the Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers, got into it with player Kevin Mitchell in 1994 while managing the Reds.
18. New York Yankees: Jorge Posada/Orlando Hernandez, Sept. 14, 2002
On Sept. 11, 2002, New York Yankees pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was called for a balk in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Apparently, the umpire had warned Yankees catcher Jorge Posada that a balk would be called if El Duque continued bringing his hand to his mouth while on the rubber.
Posada never told Hernandez of the warning, and El Duque hadn’t forgotten that fact three days later. In the clubhouse before a game against the Chicago White Sox, Hernandez was talking to teammate Raul Mondesi.
Posada came by and supposedly brought up El Duque’s mother, to which Hernandez smacked Posada in the face before the two were separated.
17. Chicago Cubs: Carlos Silva/Aramis Ramirez, March 2, 2011
Things got heated in the dugout before the season had even started in Chicago. After the first inning in a game between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, Carlos Silva was pitching, trying desperately to gain a spot on the Cubs' roster.
Three errors were committed in the inning behind Silva, one by third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who dropped a popup. After the inning ended, Silva was popping off at the mouth about the errors committed behind him and made a comment to Ramirez that clearly irked the veteran.
An altercation ensued, and the two combatants were separated.
Welcome to Chicago, Mike Quade.
16. New York Yankees: Goose Gossage/Cliff Johnson, April 1979
What started as friendly banter between two teammates quickly escalated into something just a wee bit more.
Before an April game in 1979, New York Yankees pitcher Goose Gossage and designated hitter Cliff Johnson were joking with each other, however when Gossage mentioned to Johnson that he couldn't hit Gossage when the two were playing in the National League, Johnson took great exception, and a fight ensued in the clubhouse bathroom.
During the scuffle, Gossage fell up against shower wall, injuring his thumb and putting him on the disabled list for two months.
So much for defending their back-to-back world championships.
15. Chicago Cubs: Carlos Zambrano/Derrek Lee, June 25, 2010
Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano has a temper that is definitely well-documented, and that temper once again flared after a horrific first inning in an inter-league game against the Chicago White Sox on June 25, 2010.
After Carlos Quentin had homered to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead after the first inning, Zambrano exploded in the dugout, destroying a poor Gatorade bucket and then trying to destroy Cubs' first baseman Derrek Lee.
The latter didn't work out so well, as the two were quickly separated and Zambrano was immediately suspended indefinitely after the game by general manager Jim Hendry.
14. Cincinnati Reds: Rob Dibble/Lou Piniella, 1992
Is it really any wonder that Lou Piniella retired last season, after serving as a player with the New York Yankees and their dugout shenanigans, then as manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs with players who were just a bit volatile in nature?
Late in the 1992 season, Dibble took exception to his manger Piniella telling the press that the reason Dibble hadn't pitched was because he had a sore shoulder. Dibble approached Piniella and called him a liar.
Piniella, who has never backed down from anyone, shoved Dibble, Dibble shoved back and the two were eventually separated.
I wonder if Dibble pushed Piniella with his good shoulder.
13. Minnesota Twins: Billy Martin/Dave Boswell/Bob Allison
In early August 1969, the Minnesota Twins, in the midst of a pennant race in the American League West, were in Detroit to play the Tigers. At an athletic club in Detroit, teammates Dave Boswell and Bob Allison engaged in a fight. Manager Billy Martin found out about it and went to break it up.
Martin found Boswell, who had clocked Allison with one punch. According to Martin, he then had to defend himself when Boswell came at him swinging. Martin clocked Boswell with one punch.
Boswell claimed that he never went after Martin, that he was holding Allison down on the ground after punching him.
Allison ended up with a black eye, Boswell required 20 stitches to close a cut on his face, and Martin needed seven stitches on his knuckles.
Source: Coffeeville Whirlwind
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Prince Fielder/Manny Parra, Aug. 4, 2008
If there is one thing in life to be learned, that would be not to upset a 260-pound athlete who is fiercely competitive.
That is exactly what Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Manny Parra did to first baseman Prince Fielder.
Fielder apparently got enraged when Parra was pulled from a game against the Cincinnati Reds. After Parra was pinch-hit for in the top of the seventh, he started walking from the dugout to the clubhouse. Fielder became angry that Parra would just walk away from the game, and a scuffle ensued.
While no punches were thrown, I would have bet the farm on Fielder.
11. New York Mets: Keith Hernandez/Darryl Strawberry, 1989
Apparently, team photos were very important to Keith Hernandez. Not so much for Darryl Strawberry.
Strawberry showed up late for a team photo session, and Hernandez decided to give Strawberry a little grief about it.
Strawberry, who either was shy in front of the camera or was otherwise engaged in a more important matter, took exception to Hernandez griping at him and gave him a not-so-loving punch.
The two were broken up quickly, and there is no word whether or not the two were smiling in the picture.
10. Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria/B.J. Upton, June 27, 2010
In late June of last year, the Tampa Bay Rays were mired in a bit of a slump, having lost seven of their previous nine games. Playing an inter-league game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Rusty Ryal hit a gapper in the fifth inning that rolled all the way to the wall.
Center fielder B.J. Upton eventually picked the ball up and fired it in, but not before Ryal had legged out a triple. Third baseman Evan Longoria was a bit upset that Upton hadn't gone full-speed after the ball to hold Ryal to a double.
Longoria, who was clearly trying to assert himself as a leader, called Upton to task on the play, letting him know that will not be accepted. Upton, who has been known to take a few plays off from time to time, was not happy, and the two were separated after a heated exchange.
Coincidentally, Upton was benched for the following game by Rays manager Joe Maddon.
9. Boston Red Sox: Kevin Youkilis/Manny Ramirez, June 5, 2008
The game between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays on June 5, 2008, had already been a heated affair. Rays pitcher James Shields had thrown at Sox hitter Coco Crisp, Crisp charged the mound and threw a haymaker at Shields, prompting both benches to empty.
Later on, sometime between the fourth and fifth inning, Sox slugger Manny Ramirez had to be restrained by four players after going after teammate Kevin Youkilis.
Apparently, Ramirez was upset that Youkilis was blowing off steam in the dugout after a poor at-bat. Youkilis, who is known for his fiery style of play, said something, setting Ramirez off.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers: Steve Garvey/Don Sutton, Aug. 20, 1978
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey may have been adored by fans, but not so much by pitcher Don Sutton.
During the 1978 season, Sutton was interviewed by the Washington Post, and he made some comments about Garvey that apparently weren't appreciated. In the article, Sutton said, "All you hear about on our team is Steve Garvey the All-American boy. But Reggie Smith was the real MVP. We all know it ... (Smith) has carried us the last two years. He is not a facade. He does not have the Madison Avenue image."
Garvey approached Sutton and asked if the quote was accurate. Sutton said yes, and a battle ensued.
According to wire reports at the time:
"Suddenly Sutton leaped at Garvey and flung him against a row of lockers along the opposite wall. The two players went down heavily and were clawing at one another, trying ineffectively to land punches."
7. Texas Rangers: Lenny Randle/Frank Lucchesi, 1977
Texas Rangers second baseman Lenny Randle was coming off a 1976 season during which he had hit .224, and early in spring training before the 1977 season, manager Frank Luccesi had seen enough and decided to replace Randle with Bump Wills.
Randle had been griping earlier in the season about not getting enough respect, which really ticked off Lucceshi.
At the time, Lucchesi was quoted as saying, "It's just 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."
A few days after that, before an exhibition game, Randle approached Luccesi, the two had words and Randle attacked his manager.
Lucchesi suffered a black eye, fractured cheekbone and other injuries. Randle was later charged with assault, and Lucchesi was fired by the team in mid-June.
I guess Lenny Randle really could hit after all.
Source: The Baseball Library
6. Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins/Don Wakamatsu, July 23, 2010
During a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners, new Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins, who was having a rough start to his first season in Seattle, was benched by manager Don Wakamatsu.
Figgins must have been stewing about it for a while and decided to confront Wakamatsu about it during the game. The two engaged in a major shoving match before eventually being pulled apart.
Asked after the game why Wakamatsu benched Figgins, he said that Figgins' laziness at the time was "cut and dry."
Wakamatu may have won that battle, but he eventually lost the war, being fired by the Mariners shortly thereafter.
Figgins by the way still hasn't hit, or been a hit, in Seattle.
5. New York Yankees: Billy Martin/Ed Whitson, Sept. 22, 1985
Yankees manager Billy Martin was in a bar at the Cross Keys Inn in Baltimore, apparently having a beer with Dale Berra and his wife. Someone came over and told Martin that his pitcher, Ed Whitson, was also in the bar and was involved in an altercation with another bar patron.
Martin went over to where Whitson was, and somehow the two ended up in a knockdown-dragout fight that left both Martin and Whitson battered and bruised.
Martin ended up with a broken arm and bruised ribs, Whitson suffered a cracked rib and split lip.
Billy Martin and a bar. That's never going to end well.
Source: Sports Illustrated
4. San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds/Jeff Kent, June 25, 2002
Imagine being in a clubhouse with two guys who weren't exactly known as guys that everyone wanted to hang around with. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, two guys who had what can only be described as abrasive personalities, decided to go after each other in the dugout during a game.
Do you really think any of their teammates really even wanted to break that up?
Manager Dusty Baker eventually did, and the two lovebirds co-existed somewhat peacefully.
3. Chicago Cubs: Carlos Zambrano/Michael Barrett, June 1, 2007
This particular fight, between Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett, was a two-parter.
Zambrano, who had already given up eight hits in the first four innings of a game against the Atlanta Braves, was struggling again in the fifth, giving up another three hits along with two walks.
His catcher Barrett committed a passed ball, then threw the ball away trying to nail runner Paul Orr at third.
After the inning was over, the two had words in the dugout and a fight ensued.
The fight spilled over into the clubhouse, and Barrett ended up with a bloody lip and a trip to the hospital.
2. New York Yankees: Reggie Jackson/Billy Martin, 1977
Let's see, ego versus temper.
That's the best way to describe New York Yankees right fielder Reggie Jackson and manager Billy Martin. The two collided one day in 1977, and it wasn't pretty.
Jackson's ego was bruised, which was really the only thing that came out of this scuffle. Martin pulled Jackson from a game, Jackson felt humiliated, Martin let him know he didn't care about his precious ego.
While it was played out on national television, it never really escalated into anything more than a shouting match and finger-pointing. Martin has certainly had worse encounters, before and after.
1. Oakland Athletics: Reggie Jackson/Billy North, 1974
Now this particular fight involving Reggie Jackson was MUCH jucier than his fight with Billy Martin three years later.
One particular day during the 1974 season, Billy North was apparently needling Jackson just a wee bit too much, and Jackson went after North. The two exchanged punches, and pitcher Vida Blue and catcher Ray Fosse attempted to break it up.
While Jackson and North may have scraped their knuckles a little bit, Fosse ended up hurting his neck and was out for the rest of the season.