In the early '90s, I attended a bunch of Low Single A Macon Braves games. As I recall, at one point they had the worst record in professional baseball at something like 3 and 30. That stupendous failure rate prompted me to take the unorthodox stance of heckling the home team with a level of vigor inversely proportional to their ineptitude. Of particular interest to me, as the beer garden was located down the 3rd base line, was young strapping third baseman John Knott. My primary shtick, predictably, revolved around his name, "You're awesome Johnny - Not!", yelling "Not!" loudly as he was in mid-swing and reminding him that he was probably "Not" gonna hit it. Some earnest deadpan "Johnny, you really are terrible", "Why don't you just quit?" and generally disparaging commentary, based on factors other than his surname, were interspersed for variety. After a game or so of that, with some beautifully timed "NOT!" cries voiced just as he was in mid third strike swing, he became increasingly testy. While in the field, where he was about 20 yards from the stands by the beer tent, he began to remind me that he was, in fact, a professional baseball player, that I was a young drunken pussy and that I should try to see if I could do what he did. I pointed out that I could strike out just as well as him and it would cost the Braves about $5,000 less per year for me to do it. Our relationship deteriorated after that. At some point, a few days later, while in the field (and during an at-bat!) he finally had enough, wandered over to the fence and promised to kick my ass after the game. Budlite and a three foot chainlink fence gave me a sense of security belied by later events.
Johnny Knott left Macon shortly thereafter. He ultimately ended up in the majors as a scab for the Braves during the strike. However, his most enduring contribution to baseball history took place at a 1996 Durham Bulls |Prevent Domestic-Violence night". In what ESPN has billed the 5th best fight in baseball history, Knott finally snapped:
The occasion: "Strike Out Domestic Violence" night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The catalyst: Warthogs pitcher Jason Kummerfeldt, who hit three Bulls batters before the third inning ended. The charger: Bulls batter John Knott, who was sure Kummerfeldt was doing it on purpose. The end result: fisticuffs and one kick to the face of Winston-Salem pitcher Glen Cullop, who ended up hospitalized with a broken jaw and lost five teeth.