Basebrawl at its best

By Jeffery Armstrong

Those of you who have read my columns know that I am pretty much boycotting major league baseball this season. Back in the day, I couldn't wait to watch nine (or more) full innings of Yankees or Braves baseball. Now my baseball watching consists of checking the highlights on Sportscenter, which isn't a bad thing. I can see what happened in quick snapshots and not have to deal with seeing all these bad teams play for the entire game.

Do you really want to see the Detroit Tigers or Milwaukee Brewers play all game or would you rather see them lose in five minute intervals? I say five minutes.

The other day, I checked out Sportscenter and saw that two baseball players I like, Tino Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals (a former Yankee) and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, were both hit by pitches. Sammy got hit in the head while Tino was hit on the shoulder, which led to a bench-clearing brawl on the mound minutes later.

As I was watching the brawl, my mind drifted and I got to thinking: what was the best major league brawl ever?

The answer is simple and many of you readers probably remember it: the 1984 brawl between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

This brawl had everything you could ever ask for: players pushing and shoving, managers yelling, fan interaction and pure excitement, especially to yours truly, who was a crazy teenager at the time.

I believe "the best brawl of ?em all" started with former Padres pitcher Eric Snow hitting former Braves' pitcher Pascual Perez. I think Perez hit one of the Padres earlier, so Show retaliated. Y'all remember that Perez had a temper, so when he was hit, he was really ticked off. He was so angry, he charged the mound with his bat still in his hand. I really thought that he was going to hit Show with the bat.

Show backed up, of course, and other Padre players ganged up on Perez, which brought Braves' players out to the mound as well. Everybody was "Kung-Fu Fighting" at that point and I was eatin' it up. The brawl then spilled over to the Padres' dugout and Braves fans, who were sloppy drunk, decided to join the fracas at that point.

I distinctly remember one fan getting on top of the dugout and another fan coming out of the stands with a full cup of beer in his hand and tossing the whole cup on one of the Padres. The fan on the dugout then jumped on one of the Padre players and the beer-tosser grabbed another player's hair. I jumped up and was yelling at the television all through the brawl, especially when the fans got involved. I couldn't believe that fans had the nerve to do anything to those players.

I shudder to think what they would've done had the Padre players jumped into the crowd – all 600 fans at the game that day would've piled on them like rats. Scary.

I found out later that former Braves' player Bob Horner, who was on the disabled list at the time, put on his uniform to get involved with the "best brawl of ?em all." I can't say that I blame him – everyone else in Atlanta was involved.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports reporter for the Herald. He can be reached at jarmstrong@henryherald.com.