Of course, as pastimes go, baseball is much more erudite than hockey. A gentleman’s game, born in rich green fields and deeply woven into the very cultural fabric of our country. Yet you only need to stare at a photo of Pete Vukovich for so long to realize the sport also has a dark underbelly, which exposes itself from time to time in the form of baseball memorabilia shows… and fights.
We at Surviving Grady understand that there’s no fighting in baseball. But even we can admit that sometimes it’s just incredibly amusing to watch a bunch of guys in knee-socks pig-pile each other. So today, we’re going to put the spotlight on a couple baseball fights swimming in our own heads. These are by no means the nastiest, the most grueling or even the most infamous. Instead, we’re focusing on the ones that sorta left us scratching our heads, asking “Is this really happening?”
But they did, gentle readers. They did.
Izzy Alcantara vs. Red Barons Catcher
Back in the Dan Duquette era, Izzy Alcantara was the pride of the farm system. And while his few major league apperances with the Sox weren’t exactly flush with brilliance, he established himself as the King of Don’t F–k With Me Mountain during a Paw Sox-Red Barons game. After getting brushed back a couple times, the Izzer decided he’d had enough, and, in a move that is as brilliant as it was reprehensible, he deftly kicked the catcher in the mask, knocking him backward, and then charged the mound. It was a spectacle for the ages — replayed on ESPN so much you could have sworn Izzy landed his own sitcom deal there. It was also pretty shrewd; eliminate the catcher, and there’s no one to tackle you from behind en route to the mound. An ingenious tactic that, to my knowledge, has never been replicated. Oh, and the next time you’re shopping at “Benny’s” in Cranston, RI, say hello to Izzy.
George Bell [AKA Jorge Bell] vs. Bruce Kison
Bell was already one of baseball’s most despised characters, greeted at ballparks across America as if he were the Iron Shiek handing out copies of The Communist Manifesto. But the man truly became the Joker to Red Sox Nation’s Batman after charging pitcher Bruce Kison. This was no ordinary charging of the mound, mind you. Rather than getting all up in Kison’s grill, Bell got his Bruce Lee on, executing a bizarre, Ashlee Simpson-worthy psuedo-jig-kick. In a moment of real-life comedy you just can’t script, Kison casually slipped to the side, let Bell pass him, then knocked him on his ass with a left hook. The next day, Steven Spielberg snapped up the film rights.
Frankie Rodriguez vs. the New York Yankees
There was a time when Rodriguez was an up-and-coming pitcher in the Red Sox farm system. But, suprisingly, he had to go to Seattle to slip into “let’s get it on” mode against the Yankees. As best as I can recall, Yanks pitcher Jason Grimsley gave up a home run to A-Rod, who was then with the Mariners. The next batter, Edgar Martinez, took one to the shoulder, and Grimsley was shown the door. In the top of the next inning, Frankie R plunked Chuck Knobluach on the arse, and he, too, was directed to the showers. Payback delivered, end of story. Only on his way out, Rodriguez charged the Yankee dugout, screaming furiously and essentially challenging the entire bench to step outside. He then charged at Joe Girardi — something we’ve all probably considered at one time in our lives — and served up a few knuckle sammiches before all heck broke loose.
Robin Ventura vs. Nolan Ryan
Two things about baseball: You don’t charge a 46 year old pitcher. And you don ‘t f–k with Nolan Ryan. If Ventura had realized just one of these things, he could have spared himself what will long be remembered as one of the most embarassingly one-sided ass-whippings in basebrawl history. Instead, after Ryan knocked him with one of his patented Texas Heaters, Ventura — twenty years younger than Ryan — ran madly toward the pitcher only to find himself wrapped up in a headlock and “noogied” mercilessly. Captured for posterity by TV cameras, it is all at once a spectacle of emotions run wild and documentation of the single worst heat-of-the-moment decision ever executed. Rewatching the tape, you can almost hear the voices inside Ventura’s head: “Hit me? How dare he hit me! I’ll show him. F–k. Okay. Here I come. Shit. He’s pretty big up close. Go for the legs. Go for the legs. Ulp. Oof. He’s got me. Gotta try to— nope, he’s got me. F–k. Ouch. OUCH. Cut it out! My god… no.. please… must not wet pants… must. not. wet. pants.”
Although we realize that the first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club, we encourage you to add any of your own to our comments section. And be careful out there.