5 of the Biggest Baseball Brawls in MLB History
There’s no denying that the typical professional baseball game has many dull moments. Even the most diehard fan can have a hard time focusing on those midseason snoozefests during the dog days of August. Still, every once in a while, fans are treated to a phenomenon as rare as it is riveting—the bench-clearing brawl.
Whether it’s a longstanding feud between rivals or a random minor league skirmish, there’s something mesmerizing about watching entire teams confront each each other. Here are 5 of the biggest brawls in baseball history:
October 11, 2003: Down Goes Zim
The bad blood between the Yankees and Red Sox had been brewing all season, culminating in 2003 playoffs with this infamous brawl.
Dugouts emptied and punches flew when a Roger Clemens fastball nearly took Manny Ramirez’s head off. Don Zimmer, angry about Pedro Martinez’s tendency to throw at Yankee players, decided to charge the diminutive hurler. Martinez responded by tossing the 72-year-old coach headfirst into the dirt, prompting a media firestorm.
Although Zimmer later took the blame for the incident, baseball fans will always remember the day that Pedro Martinez assaulted a senior citizen.
July 24, 2004: Sox Vs. Yankees Round 2
What happens when the outspoken leaders of two hated rivals occupy the same batter’s box? Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek decided to answer that question.
Bronson Arroyo drilled A-Rod with a fastball, causing the slugger to hurl some insults toward the mound on his way to first. Jason Varitek moved quickly to block A-Rod’s path, and after a brief (foul-mouthed) exchange, the two stars mixed it up. The resulting fight led to 8 suspensions, and reminded everyone that the Red Sox and Yankees just don’t get along.
August 4, 1993: The Headlock Seen Round The WOrld
By 1993, Nolan Ryan was 46 years old and entering the twilight of his career. Robin Ventura was looking for a first-round knockout when he charged the mound and took on the big Texan. Unfortunately for Robin, the legendary flamethrower wasn’t the average middle-aged man.
Ryan caught Ventura in a headlock and proceeded to administer the most painful noogie of all time. For the next decade and a half, the Rangers replayed the fight on their stadium’s jumbo-tron before every home game.
July 3, 2001: Izzy Goes Crazy
This brawl took place during a game between the Triple A affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. Red Sox minor leaguer Izzy Alcantara took exception to a pair of inside pitches, and decided to take matters into his own…well, feet. After unleashing a vicious kick straight into the catcher’s mask, Alcantara charges the mound, causing an all-out donnybrook between the two clubs.
If baseball doesn’t work out, Alcantara can always try out for the WWE.
August 22, 1965: Marichal Makes His Mark
The 1965 showdown between San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers is the grandfather of all bench-clearing brawls.
Pitcher Juan Marichal was batting against Sandy Koufax, and thought that catcher Johnny Roseboro’s return throws were coming a little too close to his head. Roseboro took off his mask to argue otherwise, and was immediately struck by Mirachal’s bat. Needless to say, a massive fight ensued between the fierce rivals.
Still, this story has a happy ending—Roseboro’s personal appeal was instrumental in securing a Hall of Fame induction for Mirachal.