Synopses & Reviews
BENCHCLEARING: Baseball’s Greatest Fights and Riots (Lyons)
The most anticipated baseball book of the year!
In spite of its reputation as America’s favorite pastime, the bucolic sport of clean-shaven home-run heroes on lazy summer afternoons, baseball has had its share of embarrassing moments – those benchclearing slug-fests that bring piles of struggling players, ejections, and tarnished reputations. This is the complete collection of stories that Major League Baseball would prefer to forget, but that fans love to relive. A short list of memories: the controversial pitching battles that pitted Ventura against Ryan, Russell against McGraw, and Sweeney against Weaver. The dust-ups on base paths, such as Davis versus Knight and Robinson versus Mathews. Home plate fights between Munson and Fisk (and Piniella too), “headhunter” confrontations between Martinez and Sanders, and Clemens and Piazza, and whole chapters dedicated to Billy Martin, beanball wars, manager’s fights, fan confrontations, clubhouse squabbles and much, much more. Here is the true, entertaining history of “base-brawl” over the last three decades, with a full-color photo insert. This colorful chronicle of American history is like no other, and it will appeal to a huge bestselling audience.
Spike Vrusho lives in Rhinebeck, New York
A collection of tales about the best bench-clearing fights and riots of professional baseball in the era of free agency, with a few great stories of brawls from the past thrown in.
Admit ityou take a certain pleasure in witnessing baseball's embarrassing moments, those melees that bring tussling players, ejections, and tarnished reputations. In Benchclearing, journalist Spike Vrusho places you smack dab in the middle of the greatest and most infamous brawls, fistfights, and pile-on game-stoppers, including those that swept fans along for the ride. These are the stories Major League Baseball would prefer to forget, but fans love to relive. Among the incidents included are:
Red Sox hurler Pedro Martinezs throw-down of Yankees coach Don Zimmer in the 2003 ALCS
Nolan Ryan's Texas-style whupping of White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura
Juan Marichals bat vs. Johnny Roseboro's head-the bloodiest moment in the long history of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry
Fan behavior at its worst, including Chicago's Disco Demolition Night and Cleveland's Ten-Cent Beer Night
An entire chapter devoted to the pugilistic exploits of Yankee legend Billy Martin
Battles involving well-known hotheads from Ty Cobb to Leo Durocher to Roger Clemens
About the Author
Spike Vrusho was the editor-in-chief of the brilliant but short-lived New York Sports Express. Before that he was a writer for New York Press through the 1990s to 2002. He now lives and writes in Rhinebeck, NY.
Table of Contents
Benchclearing: Baseballs Greatest Fights and Riots
By Spike Vrusho
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Fightin words
Chapter 1: Roundhouse--Raw nature of competitive sports, roots of baseball violence in Cobb, Devlin, Durocher.
--Summer heat and baseballs endurance challenge.
Chapter 2: Pitched Battles--Ultimate confrontation of pitcher vs batter; Ventura-Ryan; Russell-McGraw (Rose); Bell-Sele (M.Vaughn); Bell-Kison; Dean Palmer-J.Parque; Haselman-Mussina; Sweeney-Weaver.
Chapter 3: 90 Feet of Mayhem--Basepath clashes; Robinson-Mathews; Rose-Harrelson; E. Davis-R.Knight; Chan Ho Park-T.Belcher
Chapter 4: Home Plate Pugilism--Trying to score; Munson-Fisk; Piniella-Fisk (Bill Lee); Pierzynski-Barrett; Sheffield-Kendall.
Chapter 5: Fan Depreciation--Audience participation melees; Tony Phillips into the stands in 96; Chad Kreuter into Wrigley stands; Wrigley fan confronts Randy Myers; Chambliss clears a path at Yankee Stadium; hunting knife thrown at Wally Joyner in Bronx; The Ligues vs KC base coach Gamboa at Comiskey; Visgar charges Bill Spiers in Milwaukees left field; Reggie Smith vs SF fan Michael Dooley; Milton Bradleys free beer; Piersall takes on teens in Cleveland; Dime beer night in Cleveland; Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park.
Chapter 6: Mismatches--Albert Belle-Fernando Vina; John Cangelosi-John Smoltz
Chapter 7: Headhunters--Pedro Martinez-R.Sanders; Pedro Martinez-G.Williams; Clemens-Piazza; Dibble-E. Yelding.
Chapter 8: Bad Blood & Vendettas--A. Kennedy-Feldman (Angels-Rangers); NYY-Boston (Lonborg-Tillotson; A-Rod-Varitek; Nelson & Garcia-Fenway bullpen guy) Dock Ellis vs Reds; 1986 Mets vs The World.
Chapter 9: Australian Rules--Deconstruction of the May 19, 1998 battle between the Orioles and Yankees, led by Aussie reliever Graeme Lloyd who charged out of the Yankee bullpen, as seen by Spike at Yankee Stadium.
Chapter 10: Billy Martin--Cracked Jim Brewers cheekbone and went on to fight every front office he ever managed for, Jimmy Piersall, Reggie Jackson, Ed Whitson and a marshmellow salesman.
Chapter 11: A Mess in Atlanta--Padres-Braves features 14 ejections after beanball wars are started by Pascual Perez.
Chapter 12: Kicking Ash--Baseball bat as war club; incidents include B.Campeneris; Dave Winfield; Roseboro-Marichal.
Chapter 13: Go Down Swinging--Incidents that ended careers and/or seasons; Felix Millan-Ed Ott; A.Ramirez-Ben Sheets.
Chapter 14: Taking It Up With Management--Players fight their bosses; Randle-Lucchesi; Lilly-Gibbons; D.Ellis-Leppert/Murtaugh; Dibble-Piniella.
Chapter 15: Clubhouse Gladiators--Internal squabbles get physical; Sutton-Garvey; Chad Curtis, music critic; Cliff Johnson-Goose Gossage.
Chapter 16: Downtime Throw-Downs--Legacy of violence at Milwaukees Pfister Hotel; bars, elevators, hotel lobbies and planes (W.Wilson-J.Wathan) Kevin Brown berserk in Vero Beach spring training; Mr. 7 Mrs. Bobby Cox; late night dining with Boomer Wells in Manhattan.
Chapter 17: Wrist Slaps and Parking Tickets--Punishment and fines for players who fight.