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Charlie's Inside Corner: Fighting with the Stars
Charlie's Inside Corner - photo by AP Photo

I know, it’s supposed to be “Dancing With The Stars” but, this week, it is more appropriate to call it “Fighting With The Stars”. Last Sunday the high-flying Kansas City Royals and the resurgent Toronto Blue Jays got into a couple of bench-clearing “fights”.

Now, to call them fights, is to do a disservice to the word fight. This was a typical “fight” in baseball vernacular. Yes, there is anger. Yes, the benches erupt and run on to the field. Yes, threats are made. Then , more threats. Then, MORE threats! Punches? Not so much.

If you’ve ever owned chickens then you’ve observed the young ones “fighting” in the chicken yard. Mostly it is about puffing up, flapping your wings and scratching in the dirt. Sometimes a few pecks are made but for the most part it’s mostly about threats and intimidation. Baseball fights are pretty much like that.  A week later and the Royals and Blue Jays are still puffing up, flapping their wings and scratching in the dirt. Baseball is mostly like that.

Every once in a while the real thing happens. Baseball players forget that they might get hurt and ruin their career and give back all of that money and actually have a REAL fight.  

Thirty-some years ago the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres had a “real” fight. This was a real heavyweight bout! Folks actually got clocked!

It got started early when Braves starter Pascual Perez drilled Padres leadoff man Alan Wiggins. It went downhill from there until the top of the ninth when Braves reliever Donnie Moore hit Graig Nettles.  By the time the dust settled thirteen players and both managers were ejected. Five fans who joined the fun were arrested.

Eleven players and both managers were fined. Four players received suspensions. Many call it “The Greatest Basebrawl of All Time”.

There have been dozens and dozens of these types of fights throughout baseball history. The Royals-Blue Jays “dance” pales in comparison. A very pedestrian affair. In today’s modern baseball world the “fights” just don’t compare to those of years gone by!

One of the toughest fighters in all of baseball would be the legendary Ty Cobb. A Hall of Famer for his baseball play and a Hall of Famer for his nasty disposition.

Cobb said this of his baseball rivals: “I had to fight all my live to survive. They were all against me……………….but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch!”

It is estimated that Ty Cobb was involved in more fights in his career than any other major league baseball player. Is it any wonder when Cobb was quoted that “When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch!”

When Cobb slid into second or third base with his spikes held up high the dust flew but so did the punches. “The base paths belonged to me, the runner. I always went into a bag full of speed, feet first. I had sharp spikes on my shoes. If the baseman stood where he had no business to be and got hurt, that was his own fault”, stated Cobb.  
Sounds like the kind of guy that only his mother could love! Still Cobb said, “When I came to Detroit, I was just a mild-mannered Sunday school boy.”  While you are pondering that, Cobb probably stole third base!

Fighting in baseball isn’t what it used to be. Today it looks more like a chicken dance. Not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Just the way it is.