After last night’s brawl between the Yankees and Red Sox, baseball is officially back! Tyler Austin and Joe Kelly showed fire and fury that we barely see in sports rivalries anymore, and it was a lot of fun to watch. With that being said, let’s take a look back at the five best baseball fights in MLB history.
Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland
This one is on the list for one reason, the helmet throw at the beginning. It was the best and worst thing ever, Harper throws his helmet nowhere remotely close to Strickland. Harper’s Nationals and Strickland’s Giants already had some bad blood, but this escalated when Strickland hit Harper. Harper hit two home runs off Strickland in the NLDS a few years before, and Strickland didn’t forget. Harper, well known for his attitude around the league didn’t take kindly to being hit and landed a few good punches on Strickland to make up for his atrocious helmet throw.
Yadier Molina and Brandon Phillips
The Cardinals and Reds don’t like each other, so Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina decided to say something to the Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips when he stepped in the box to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Everything seemed to be a normal bench clearer at first with a lot of shouting and no punches thrown, but then-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Reds manager Dusty Baker got into a war of words, and all hell broke loose. Reds starting pitcher Jonny Cueto ended up in the middle of everything as people started getting pinned up against the backstop netting.
George Bell and Mo Vaughn
Two of the larger men to ever play the game got into a brawl for the ages. After Bell, who played for the White Sox at the time, was hit with a pitch from Red Sox pitcher Aaron Sele, he charged the mound, that’s when Vaughn stepped in. Running in from his spot at first base, he laid a hit on Bell that would make Kam Chancellor jealous. This fight was over quickly, but it was as hard-hitting as ever. It also took about half of both teams to hold both guys back after that.
Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura
Nolan Ryan was at the very end of his career, he’s 46 years old at the time and still arguably the best pitchers of all time. It seemed unintentional, but he hit former White Sox third baseman and current manager Robin Ventura, made the worst decision of his career. He charged Ryan, and Ryan immediately put the man 20 years younger than him in a headlock and gave him a beat down that will last for ages.
Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez
What else would be tops on this list? This fight sparked so many incredible moments in months to come for the Red Sox, but it also gave us the greatest picture in baseball history. Red Sox fans will never forget Varitek stuffing his glove into new Yankee A-Rod’s face and silencing him. This was a lot of bad blood boiling over from the most significant rivalry in professional sports over the past few years, and this was the boiling point. Before the fight between Tyler Austin and Joe Kelly, this was the last time the Red Sox/ Yankees rivalry was truly at its peak.