Thursday, April 23, 2009
Best Brawls: #3 Hunter v. Baez
Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2002 - Jacobs Field in Cleveland
In the fifth inning of their virtually meaningless mid-July game (Cleveland was 42-50 coming in and Minnesota was running away with the division) the Cleveland starting pitcher, Danny Baez, plunked Torii Hunter on the left side to which Hunter took great offense. Why was he so angry you ask? He had been hit on the left side three times that week and apparently the third time was too much. Hunter walked halfway down the line to where the ball, conveniently, lay. Hunter proceeded to pick up the ball, yell a few words out to Baez, and then threw a fastball right at Baez which hit him in the leg. Needless to say, both benches cleared in record time, but the incident did not escalate and no additional fighting insued.
So I'm not sure this qualifies as a brawl, there have certainly been worse incidents, but it is funny. I have to imagine that there haven't been many instances of a batter throwing a ball back at the pitcher. Anyway, Hunter was suspended for three games, no others were suspended or fined, both players apologized to one another and the event passed with little other fanfare than a SportsCenter highlight.
The true highlight of the night was Ron Gardenhire's comments after the game. You can't make this stuff up: "Torii is an emotional player. I just think he was giving the ball back, that's all."
I searched the internet up and down for a video of this hilarity or even a picture, nothing. Sorry, I'd love to see it again myself.