Twenty-six years ago today, the Braves and the Padres decided to forgo their obligations of playing baseball and instead sporadically cleared their benches and punched each other in the face. It's one of the best baseball fights ever, if not the best.
These days, we'll call just about anything a brawl, even if it looks more like a barn dance. This, however, was a brawl. A couple brawls, in fact.
The shenanigans started before most of the Fulton County Stadium spectators had even taken their seats. Braves starter Pascual Perez drilled Padres leadoff man Alan Wiggins. Words were exchanged, and when Perez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second, he might as well have been wearing a bullseye. Well, it all just escalated from there.
Perez was brushed back by an Ed Whitson fastball and made threatening motions with his bat. Padres catcher Terry Kennedy took umbrage at that and started jawing at Perez. In turn, Perez really started to wave his bat around. Then the benches cleared. Let's go to the tape.
And that's compiled from multiple events throughout the game. The final incident came in the top of the ninth, when Braves reliever Donnie Moore hit Graig Nettles. This was in retaliation for Craig Lefferts finally pinning one on Perez. The benches cleared; things got out of hand. Well, you saw the video.
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Let's tally the numbers: three hit batsmen and the three failed attempts by the Padres to hit Perez led to the benches clearing in the second, fifth, eighth, and nine innings. Thirteen players and both managers—yes, even the Braves' saintly manager, Joe Torre—were ejected. Five fans who joined the fun were arrested. Eleven players and both managers were fined. Four players received suspensions. Torre was suspended for three games. Padres manager Dick Williams was fined $10,000 and given a 10-day suspension. It all resulted in an extremely coy box score and play-by-play description.
The game became the focus of an SI feature about the Padres—who were on their way to losing the World Series—and led to one of the most ridiculous quotes that has ever been attributed to Joe Torre:
"Dick Williams is an idiot," he said. "It was obvious he was the cause of the whole thing. Precipitating a thing like that was inexcusable. It was stupid of them, period, to take four shots at Perez. It was gutless. It stinks. It was Hitler-like action. I think he (Williams) should be suspended for the rest of the year."
We salute you, 26-year-old baseball game highlights, and all the men involved—especially that beer-chucker at the :15 mark.
Video via MLB.com
Sad trumpet via George Rabbai