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The 9 Nastiest Baseball Brawls of All-Time

by: Esteban On  Monday, April 15, 2013

baseball brawls

Last Thursday, a bench-clearing brawl erupted between the Padres and Dodgers after San Diego’s Carlos Quentin took umbrage at being plunked by Los Angeles’ Zack Greinke. It was probably the most heated altercation we’ve seen in MLB since the Reds-Cardinals melee back in 2010, and it resulted in another altercation between Carlos Quentin and Matt Kemp in the Petco Field parking lot after the game, a broken collarbone for the $147 million pitcher, and an 8-game suspension for Quentin.

So how does the Padres-Dodgers brawl of 2013 stack up against the nastiest brawls in Major League history? Well, we’ll have to let this one sink in a little bit more before saying for sure, but chances are it will one day fall in between one of the baseball brawls on this list. So take a look for yourself and tell us what you think.


9. The Patient Brawl

When: June 21, 1967

Who: Yankees & Red Sox

When these youngins brawl today, they’re always in such a hurry. A guy gets hit by a pitch and he runs as fast as he can out to the pitcher.

In the olden days, folks weren’t always rushin’ everywhere. When time came to have a little brawl on the baseball diamond they didn’t run; they sauntered. And when they finally got there, they threw actual punches…like men.

Case in point: this epic brawl between the Carl Yastrzemski’s Red Sox and Mickey Mantle’s Yankees in 1967. They didn’t run toward each other like a pack of wild animals. Instead, they calmly made their way out to the center of the field and then engaged in fisticuffs like civilized adults. Considering all the beanings (3) and near-beanings in this game, this was as classy baseball brawl as you could have expected.


8. Will Clark Handles All Comers

When: July 24, 1988

Who: Cardinals & Giants

Two of the oldest and proudest National League franchises became mortal enemies during a tense, hard-fought 1987 NLCS. Then, in 1988, after a hard slide by Will “The Thrill” Clark into St. Louis second baseman Jose Oquendo, an all-out brawl broke out. Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith started throwing haymakers at Clark while he was taking on Oquendo, then more Cardinals piled on top of the slugger before the Giant’s Candy Maldonado came flying in, WWE style, and gave Smith a bloody lip.

It was an awesome brawl, and it yielded one of the all-time great baseball quotes. After the game, Giants manager Roger Craig said, “I’ll tell you one thing—that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen Maldonado go from first to second.” (Source)


7. You Don't Mess with the Farnesworth

When: June 19, 2003

Who: Reds & Cubs

Kyle Farnsworth may be 6’4″ and 230 pounds, but Paul Wilson is 6’5″ and 235 pounds. So Wilson, then a starting pitcher for the Reds, probably figured he could handle Fansworth when he started barking at him about a pitch that was high and in back in 2003. He was wrong. The Cubs’ Farsworth charged his pitching counterpart at the plate, slammed him to the ground, and landed a few good punches before anybody could pull them apart.

Today Farnsworth is 37 and still pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays. So if any of you young whippersnappers out there want to see if Kyle still has it, please go for it. We’d all love to see that.


6. Varitek v. A-Roid

When: July 24, 2004

Who: Red Sox & Yankees

Not only was this a truly great baseball brawl between two teams that truly hate each other, but the video clip we have of the brawl is a true masterpiece. The whole thing started with Bronson Arroyo plunking Alex Rodriguez. The latter then gives the former a death star and mouths a few choice words before Sox catcher Jason Varitek steps in, shoves his nasty catchers mitt in A-Roid’s face, and a brawl ensues.

Of course, you will remember that, later that year, the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 ALCS deficit against the Yankees to win the pennant and then the World Series. So it seems that Varitek standing up to the superstar Yankee was a sign of things to come.


5. Yanks Go After Benitez

When: May 19, 1998

Who: Orioles & Yankees

What can I say? Everybody hates the Yankees, so everybody wants a piece of them. In this case, the aggressor was Baltimore pitcher Armando Benitez. He gave up a three-run homer to Bernie Williams, then took out his frustration on the next batter, Tino Martinez, drilling him in the back. At that point, the benches cleared, and they didn’t fill up again until the Yankees’ Darryl Strawberry had exacted revenge and jacked Ramirez in the side of the face as he was trying to flee to the dugout.


4. The Reds-Mets NLCS Melee

When: October 8, 1973

Who: Reds & Mets

After Game 2 of the 1973 NLCS, the Mets light-hitting second baseman, Bud Harrelson, made a funny self-depricating quip about the Reds. He said they looked like him hitting.

Well, the Reds didn’t like it. And after Pete Rose slid into Harrelson while trying to break up a double play—with the Mets up 9-3 in Game 3—he let Harrelson know about it…with his fists. A full-scale brawl ensued, which also included a one-on-one fight between Pedro Borbon and the Mets’ Buzz Capra (man, they don’t make baseball names like they used to) that ended with Borbon wearing a Mets cap, realizing it, and then taking a bite out of it.

Oh, and by the way, the Mets went on to win the Pennant…and lose to the Athletics in the World Series


3. Barrett Jacks Pierzynski

When: May 20, 2006

Who: Cubs & White Sox

The Cubs and White Sox were already hated intercity rivals. Then the White Sox went and ended their epic World Series drought in 2005 and rubbed it in the faces of their Northside neighbors, who still haven’t won a championship since 1908. That took the rivalry to another level. So when 2005 World Series hero/villain A.J. Pierzynski collided with Cubs catcher Michael Barrett at the plate during an interleague game in 2006…well, that was it. Barrett sucker-punched AJ in the face, a brawl ensued, and fans of both teams went nuts.


2. Robin Ventura Run Over by the Ryan Express

When: August 4, 1993

Who: Rangers & White Sox

Speaking of the White Sox, here is one that current White Sox manager Robin Ventura would probably rather forget. Unfortunately, that’s never going to happen because ain’t nobody gonna let him.

When the legendary Nolan Ryan hit Ventura with a pitch in 1993, the 26-year-old Chicago third baseman charged the 46-year-old Texas pitcher. What resulted was one of the greatest beatdowns in sports history, with Ryan putting Ventura in a headlock and teaching him a hard lesson about the importance of respecting his elders.


1. Marichal's Bat Attack

When: August 22, 1965

Who: Dodgers and Giants

You probably assumed the Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura fight would take the top spot. However, you were mistaken. How can we not give the top spot to a brawl that featured a Hall of Fame pitcher splitting another player’s head open with a bat?

In 1965, the Giants and Dodgers, already heated rivals, were engaged in a tight pennant race when they faced off in a late August series. Tensions ran high during one of those games after the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax threw a couple of pitches high and inside to the Giants’ Maury Willis. Then, with Giants pitcher Juan Marichal at the plate, Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro threw a ball back to Koufax that grazed Marichal’s ear, and that was it. The two exchanged words, Roseboro took off his mask and hat, and Marichal whacked him on the head with his bat, opening a two-inch gash, and earning himself a nine-game suspension and a $1,750 fine.

Now that’s how you brawl.