As far as basebrawls go, last week’s prom-style quarrel between Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland was the Gabagool in a dry-cured ham family of on-diamond brawls. That doesn’t mean past brawls haven’t had fans drooling for more fisticuffs and umpires running like the dickens. But it does make us question where the fight ranks among the other historic MLB brawls?
Let’s take a look.
25. Reds-Cardinals, 2010
Here’s a heated NL Central rivalry that’ll always have steam. Brandon Phillips calling the St. Louis Cardinals “little bitches” was all the motivation catcher Yadier Molina needed to get the party started. Worth adding that within the myriad brawls was Johnny Cueto kicking Reds catcher Jason LaRue in the head, which caused one of his many career concussions — forcing LaRue to retire at the end of the season.
24. Mets-Reds and Ray Knight-Eric Davis, 1986
There’s a reason third base is called the hot corner, especially when manned by former high school Golden Glove boxer-turned Mets third baseman Ray Knight.
23. Dodgers-Angels, 1999
Facing the crosstown rival Anaheim Angels was all the juice Chan Ho Park needed to get rowdy. In a seemingly routine play, Park laid a sacrifice bunt down the first base line and cruised to first. The tag from pitcher Tim Belcher was evidently a bit too invasive for Park, who quickly went to the rarely seen dropkick for true effect.
22. Yankees-Red Sox, 2003 ALCS
The 2003 ALCS saw Pedro Martinez talk trash, Don Zimmer get physically tossed by Pedro, Manny Ramirez be.. well.. Manny, and Karim Garcia remind us that he still existed.
21. Rangers-Blue Jays, 2016
It all began with 2004 first overall pick Matt Bush. A former shortstop-slash-convict, Bush gets credit for still making it to the Majors years later. He now pitches relief for the Rangers and evidently likes plunking guys who enjoy bat flips. While on first, a ground ball forced bat-flipping slugger Jose Bautista to second where he slid through Rougned Odor. To put it lightly, the latter wasn’t pleased.
20. Astros-Padres, 1980
The only pitcher in MLB history to strike out 5,000 batters, Nolan Ryan was no slouch on the mound. But in 1980, after taking a subtle brush-back, 6-foot-6 future Hall of Fame Dave Winfield said enough.
19. Orioles-Royals, 2016
After allowing six earned runs that night, Yordana Ventura (rest in peace) seemed to have had enough as he chucked a 98-mile-an-hour fastball at promising Orioles cornerman Manny Machado. Tempers flared, mayhem ensued.
18. Cubs-White Sox, 2006
Do not mess with A.J. Pierzynski. Or maybe just Michael Barrett.
17. Tigers-Athletics, 1972 ALCS
Game 2 of the 1972 American League Championship Series saw Bert Campaneris, nailed on the ankle by a pitch from Lerrin LaGrow, commit borderline attempted manslaughter as he chucked his bat like a rotten apple.
16. Mariners-Orioles, 1993
This fight started after Mike Mussina drilled Bill Haselman (who had homered earlier). Mariners pitcher Chris Bosio had just returned from a broken collarbone only to re-break it in this historic fight.
15. Red Sox-Yankees, 2004
Forget the 696 career homers, three MVP awards, PEDs, paintings depicting himself as a centaur. This fight with Jason Varitek is perhaps A-Rod’s most famous moment.
14. Royals-Tigers, 2001
Legend has it that Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney loved to hug people. But not just any hug — a bench-clearing hug.
13. Yankees-Red Sox, 1976
In 1976, the always fiery Yankees-Red Sox rivalry hit a new peak. It started when Lou Piniella crashed into Carlton Fisk at home plate, feet first. Both players immediately rose to the fight, which saw Bill Lee destroy his shoulder after getting in fights with Mickey Rivers and Graig Nettles. Yankees, Fisk, pure hatred.
12. Giants-Dodgers, 1965
Don’t ever touch Juan Marichal — especially when he’s got lumber in his hand.
11. Nationals-Marlins, 2010
Nyjer Morgan calls this one the flying dragon.
10. 10-Cent Beer Night, 1974
Honorable special mention for this non-team brawl.
9. Athletics-Angels, 1995
Tim Salmon plunked. Jim Corsi blindsighted. Tony La Russa crazy eyes. Chili Davis flying.
8. Mets-Phillies, 1989
After Roger McDowell got Gregg Jeffries to ground out to end the game, Jeffries responded by showing he wasn’t ready for the game to be over. If the bench clearings had just waited a few moments, McDowell would’ve endured a Grade-A body slam as well.
7. Nationals-Giants, 2017
Nearly three years ago, ‘Bryce To Meet You‘ went 2-for-2 with two home runs off of Strickland in the 2014 NLDS. 1,000 or so days later, the latter can’t seem to let it go. Props to him for keeping it low, otherwise we’d have a real problem. No credit to Harper for a terrible hat chuck and getting knocked out.
— Jacob Harrison (@jachar90) June 1, 2017
6. Red Sox-White Sox, 1993
George Bell had Aaron Sale in his sights, one swing needed to emphasize the moment. But then he missed and was promptly run over by the Mo Vaughn express.
5. Mets-Reds, 1973 NLCS
200 pounds facing 140 wasn’t exactly the matchup little shortstop Bud Harrelson had hoped for, but it didn’t stop him from battling the infamous Pete Rose after the latter’s hard slide in Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS.
4. Orioles-Yankees, 1998
New York Mets fans know how questionable Armando Benitez could be on the MLB mound. But after he gave up a go-ahead three-run home run to Bernie Williams in the eighth inning and plunked Tino Martinez to retaliate, his wild reputation reached new heights. Six minutes in, you’ll see Darryl Strawberry sucker-punch Benitez.
3. Rangers-White Sox, 1993
In the seventh-to-last game of his 27-year career, Nolan Ryan would get the brawling revenge he so yearned for after his spout with Winfield 13 years earlier. This, however, was a 20-year age war between 26-year-old Robin Ventura and the 46-year-old Ryan. Age over beauty in this one. Totally unrelated is the random fact that two-sport superstar Bo Jackson pinch-hit for White Sox Designated Hitter Matt Merullo with a runner on base in the eighth inning. He struck out almost as bad as Ventura’s fist against Ryan.
2. Dodgers-Diamondbacks, 2013
Just-promoted Yasiel Puig got nailed somewhere near the head, so teammate Zack Greinke gladly poked Miguel Montero in the back. Ian Kennedy then threw at Greinke’s head, which is when tempers really flared and brawls were seen on the horizon. The story within the story of this fight featured Mark McGwire and Matt Williams in a coaching standoff and managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson screaming at each other. Just a much-needed taste of the ’80s.
1. Braves-Padres, 1984
Already pissed that Braves pitcher Pascual Perez nailed Alan Wiggins in the back to start the game, the Padres went ahead and threw at Perez four times during this 1984 game. They didn’t actually hit him until his last at-bat, in the eighth inning, which led to an eruption of epic proportions. While arguably the brawl to brawl all brawls, this mini war sent baseball back a few decades as fans were seen on the field fighting cast-clad Atlanta slugger Bob Horner, who was injured at the time. Padres manager Dick Williams earned a 10-day suspension, while Braves king Joe Torre got three.
Cover photo h/t CBS Sacramento (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)