Sometimes, during the course of a 162 game season teams in the same division develop a simmering tension that will boil over on the field. In other cases, there’s a deep-seeded hatred for another club that spans back decades… literally. And some times, players just hate each other so much there’s no other way about things than to have it out on the field, in front of everyone.
Here’s our picks for the top 5 all-time best base-brawls!
5 – A-Rod vs. Jason Varitek
July 24, 2004, the brawl goes down as one of the most significant and nasty in the history of the storied Boston – New York rivalry. It began in the third inning when Alex Rodriguez was hit by a Bronson Arroyo high and inside fastball. Rodriguez immediately starting cursing at Arroyo, then directed his verbal abuse at Red Sox catcher, Jason Varitek. A shoving match turned into punches and the skirmish escalated into a full-out brawl. Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon decided to throw a few punches at Yankees starting pitcher Tanyon Sturtze, which resulted in a bloodied ear. After the dust settled, there were no major injuries and the Red Sox would go on to win the game 11-10.
#4 – Armando Benitez vs. Tino Martinez
Following a Bernie Williams home run on May 19, 1998, Armando Benitez learned a very valuable lesson: you don’t throw at Tino Martinez. As soon as Benitez drilled one into Martinez’s spine, the Yankees quickly exited the dugout and one of the nastiest brawls in Yankee and MLB history began. With everyone hitting everyone, the fight spilled across the field and into the Orioles’ dugout. Darryl Strawberry was the catalyst behind the dugout battle and went blow for blow with three Orioles. The fight ended when Joe Torre made his way into the dugout and escorted Strawberry across the field and into the locker room. The Yankees would end up taking the game, 9-5.
#3 – Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez
Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox was one of the more memorable in the series, but mostly for reasons other than good baseball. The tumultuous day began after outfielder Karim Garcia was drilled in the back by a Pedro Martinez fastball. The Yanks retaliated in the bottom half of the inning with a high and inside pitch to the always feisty Manny Ramirez. Ramirez charged and a bench clearing brawl broke out. In the chaos, Don Zimmer was tossed to the ground by Martinez—igniting even more fights and bickering. Roger Clemens would pitch well for the remainder of the game andhe Yankees prevailed with a score of 4-3.
#2 – Pete Rose vs. Bud Harrelson
“The Reds looked like me hitting,” said Bud Harrelson prior to Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS. The simple sentence would ignite a feud between Harrelson and the Reds, putting the Mets second baseman on watch. A heavy takeout slide from Pete Rose in the fifth inning resulted in punches instantaneously being thrown between the two. A tackle by Rose and before you knew it second base was covered by a massive brawl between the Mets and Reds. The Reds would end up falling to the Mets in a blowout, 9-2.
#1 – Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura
Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Famer known for his high-90s fastball, would plunk White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura on Aug. 4, 1993. Ventura thought about taking his base, but something snapped about ten feet up the line that triggered his attack on the 46-year-old Ryan. A bench-clearing brawl ensued as Ryan was able to put Ventura in a headlock, pounding his head with crushing blows. Ventura, however, would not quit. He was able to take down Ryan and avoid any major injury. Ryan pitched well and the Rangers were took the game, 5-2.