Major League Baseball has seen many great fights over its time. There have been brawls that have strung multiple incidents into just one grand event. Ten of these brawls stick out in MLB history as the greatest ever. There are in-city rivals on the list along with a game that saw fights every two innings on average.
Fans come out to the ballpark hoping to see something exciting, but it isn’t always the home runs or great pitching performances that gets everyone out of their seats. These ten brawls definitely did get the attention of the fans in ways the probably never expected. Everyone enjoys a good fight once in a while and this list sees a couple teams make the cut more than once.
Here are the top ten greatest brawls in Major League Baseball history.
10 Cubs vs. White Sox (May 20, 2006)
There is no doubt that the two Chicago rivals have a rich history, but it wasn’t a violent one on the field until this Saturday afternoon. On a sacrifice fly by Brian Anderson, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski plowed through Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. Barrett got up and punched Pierzynski in the face starting a brawl that had, up until that moment, only been happening in the stands. It took umpires 15 minutes to figure out who should be ejected after the fight finally stopped. Barrett got a ten-game suspension for his actions and the Cubs lost 7-0 to the Sox on that day. The rivalry hasn’t been the same since that afternoon in the Windy City.
9 White Sox vs. Rangers (Aug. 4, 1993)
The White Sox make a second trip to the list during a night that current manager Robin Ventura would love to forget. Ventura was hit by a Nolan Ryan fastball and decided to charge the mound. Ryan, who was 20 years older than Ventura, stopped him in his tracks and put him into a headlock while punching him in the head. Ryan was 46 years old at the time but still had the power to take apart Ventura in the process. There aren’t very many fights that match up with a pitcher taking control of the situation right away like this one. The Ryan Express hit Ventura hard on that hot summer evening in Arlington.
8 Reds vs. Cardinals (Aug. 10, 2010)
With the Reds and Cardinals both fighting for first place in the NL Central, things can get heated. This brawl resulted from something that happened the night before. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said some things about the Cardinals before the series even began about how “All the Cardinals do is moan about everything.” When Phillips came to the plate for the first time, he tapped Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on the shin guard. Molina wasn’t up for being friendly and a fight soon began that turned into a brawl with both teams up against the backstop pushing and shoving. The Cardinals’ Jason LaRue ended up with a concussion and other players were hurt during the incident. It wasn’t pretty but it set a tone for the next several years between the two rivals.
7 Yankees vs. Red Sox (Jul. 24, 2004)
There is a true dislike between the Yankees and Red Sox as their rivalry has been hot for years. The two teams had fought the year before in the playoffs, but this one ranked right up there with the others. Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch and as A-Rod headed for first, he began to yell at Arroyo and Boston catcher Jason Varitek. Soon enough, Varitek shoved Rodriguez in the face and the benches cleared. Several different fights developed around the main brawl and several players would be ejected after the fight was finally broke up. It showed once and for all why Boston and New York have had trouble getting along on the field. It was a fight that no fan of either team will forget.
6 Mets vs. Reds (Oct. 8, 1973)
Finding a postseason brawl isn’t the easiest thing to do, but the fight between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series is a classic. Rose tried to break up a double play and ran into Harrelson, who claimed that Rose went in high and elbowed him. Rose didn’t agree and the fight was on. Rose shoved Harrelson to the ground and soon the benches had cleared with other fights breaking out around them. The fans in New York didn’t take too kindly to Rose’s actions as they peppered him with garbage when he took his normal outfield position. Rose is one of the toughest players in baseball history, but on this day, Harrelson proved that he was not to be pushed around.
5 Yankees vs. Red Sox (Oct. 11, 2003)
As stated previously, the Yankees and Red Sox like to mix it up a little bit. This fight began when Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez threw behind Karim Garcia’s head and he was awarded first base. When Garcia tried to go to second later in the inning, he took out Todd Walker. The two began to shove each other and the benches cleared, but that was just the appetizer. The bottom of the inning saw Roger Clemens throw at Manny Ramirez. The benches cleared again and Yankees coach Don Zimmer went after Martinez. Martinez grabbed Zimmer by the head and threw him to the ground. It just added fuel to the fire with a player throwing a 72-year-old coach to the dirt. The two teams fought again the next year and another brawl is just a spark away.
4 Yankees vs. Orioles (May 19, 1998)
There have been a lot of fights involving the Yankees over the years, but this one with the Baltimore Orioles takes the cake. Armando Benitez hit Tino Martinez in the back after giving up the lead and everything broke loose after that. Benitez came off the mound looking for someone to fight and got sucker-punched by Darryl Strawberry. The punch sent Benitez into the dugout where the brawl carried on. Both teams got their swings in with Strawberry getting slugged by Alan Mills along the way. It is a fight that left Strawberry with a bloodied mouth and sore hand while Benitez would get suspended for his actions. This remains one of the most violent fights in baseball history and one that lasted quite a long time.
3 Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks (June 11, 2013)
The most recent fight on this list comes from MLB’s newest rivals. The Dodgers’ Zack Greinke got hit by fellow pitcher Ian Kennedy which sparked the second bench-clearing brawl of the game. It all started when the Dodgers were upset by Yasiel Puig getting hit. Greinke then hit Miguel Montero which began the first fight. Greinke did his best to stay out of the major part of the brawl after breaking his collarbone in a previous fight earlier in the season. Punches were thrown and Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell threw Arizona coach Turner Ward into the camera well railing. The two teams haven’t had any major issues since this fight night but there is still considerable tension anytime Greinke takes the mound against Arizona.
2 Giants vs. Dodgers (Aug. 22, 1965)
The two teams played in New York together for the first 70 years of their existence but an incident in 1965 tarnished the healthy rivalry. Giants pitcher Juan Marichal had hit two Dodgers hitters with inside pitches. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax wasn’t pleased with that and threw over the head of Willie Mays. When Marichal came to the plate later on though, he became angry because he thought catcher Johnny Roseboro was returning pitches to Koufax too close to Marichal’s head. Marichal then hit Roseboro in the head with his bat which caused a bench-clearing brawl to start. Roseboro luckily wasn’t hurt seriously during the incident but was bleeding considerably. Mays and Koufax had to be peacemakers and luckily nothing more happened.
1 Braves vs. Padres (Aug. 12, 1984)
When any list of MLB brawls is put together, this one has to be at the top. These two teams didn’t just fight just once, twice or three times, but the benches cleared on four separate occasions on this day. Atlanta pitcher Pascual Perez hit San Diego’s Alan Wiggins to lead off the game, and when Perez made it to the plate in the second, he was brushed back. Perez began to swing his bat around and the first fight started. San Diego tried to hit Perez in the fifth inning as well and the benches cleared again. Another fight started in the eighth and a fourth fight happened in the ninth inning. 11 players and both Atlanta manager Joe Torre and San Diego manager Dick Williams were fined while four players and Williams got suspended. The fans even got involved in the fights along with Atlanta slugger Bob Horner, who was hurt at the time and was sitting in the press box but made his way down. It was a melee that will never be seen again.