Among the more commonly known unwritten rules in baseball is allowing the players to police themselves. Now it's pretty evident in some capacity in all sports, but it's pretty well-documented on the diamond. It doesn't happen too often but it sure gets enforced when the moment strikes.
The biggest form of this ends up being brawls in which the benches empty. It's often a series of instances throughout the game that ultimately reach a boiling point for some.
One brawl in the 2017 season that will surely be memorable to fans of the Detroit Tigers headlines our list of 10 most memorable bench-clearing brawls in (recent) baseball history.
WHITE SOX vs. RANGERS | AUGUST 4, 1993
Former Chicago White Sox player and manager Robin Ventura gets plunked by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and immediately took exception. Ventura charges the mound and Ryan gets him in a headlock and lands a few punches to the head. Amongst the fray are former Tigers Kenny Rogers and Ivan Rodriguez, former White Sox manager and current Tigers bench coach Gene Lamont, and two-sport All-Star athlete Bo Jackson.
MARINERS vs. ORIOLES | JUNE 6, 1993
This is just two months before the Ventura-Ryan bout, and this fight just kept going. Just when you thought order was restored and both teams would return to their benches, a scrum would break out. At one point, the play-by-play commentator suggests that the police should come in and break out the ruckus.
It is all topped off by another classic hat-throwing, dirt-kicking reaction by former hot-head manager Lou Piniella.
RED SOX vs. WHITE SOX | SEPTEMBER 6, 1993
I think Tigers fans remember George Bell, going back to those old American League East days in the 1980's. Bell did spend the final two seasons of a rather impressive major league career on the south side of Chicago and for some, his lasting image may be of him getting trucked by former Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn.
Bell not only faces one, but two pitches around the head from Red Sox pitcher Aaron Sele. Brushing off the first one, Bell was not having it on the second one. Sele manages to dodge a Bell-thrown punch, then all we see is Bell getting taken down from someone out of no where. Mo Vaughn to the rescue!
EXPOS vs. PHILLIES | SEPTEMBER 24, 1996
First off, I'd like to begin a petition to bring a baseball franchise back to Montreal.
The fire that Pedro Martinez displayed when he was pitched stems all the way back to his days as a young Expo. Martinez hits Gregg Jeffries square in the ribs, Phillies pitcher Mike Williams retaliates to defend his player and throws at Pedro not once, but twice. Not only does Pedro charge the mound, but what he does when he finally gets to Williams is just pure gold.
CARDINALS vs. REDS | AUGUST 10, 2010
Here's a more recent skirmish. This is in the bottom of the first inning, so you can imagine how the remainder game and the series went as far as emotion.
These two teams flat out don't like each other. Apparently, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said some things about the St. Louis Cardinals the night before, and the Cards became aware of Phillips' words. The first one to take exception is Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, and then the gloves come off.
Also, something you don't see every day, the two managers were jawing at one another, then-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and then Reds manager Dusty Baker.
ORIOLES vs. YANKEES | MAY 19, 1998
So this one got a bit ugly… A good rule of thumb back then during the Yankees' heydays of them winning titles left and right, don't mess with Tino Martinez. Orioles reliever Armando Benitez learned that the hard way.
At first it appears things will calm and everyone will disperse… then the bullpen gets involved. Yankees reliever Graeme Lloyd goes right after Benitez when he gets to the fiasco and s*** hits the fan from there. Multiple skirmishes in the dugout, smaller fights dispersed throughout.
Like I said, it was ugly.
BREWERS vs. MARINERS | JUNE 30, 1990
How about some more old school American League action? This is when the Brewers were still a part of the junior circuit, and both them and the Mariners were donning uniforms that, in my opinion, they should be wearing today.
So this is another one that lingers on for some time. Brewers pitcher Bob Sebra plunks Tracey Jones and a fight breaks out. Things calm down, only to start back up again. It's like clockwork in the Kingdome.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. DODGERS | JUNE 11, 2013
Two division rivals + Vin Scully on the call = good fight commentary
There is a lot going on here. Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy throws at a Los Angeles Dodgers player, Dodgers starter Zack Greinke returns the favor and plunks a D-Backs players, warnings are issued. Ian Kennedy apparently did not get the message, and hits Greinke of all people, and gets tossed.
A lot of extracurricular activity between coaches in this brawl too.
YANKEES vs. TIGERS | AUGUST 24, 2017
So this one epitomizes the whole theme of “reaching a tipping point.” As the video will detail out, a series of minor battles eventually led to an all-out war, which is depicted by Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine.
Not once, not twice, but thrice do the bullpens empty out in this one. For many Tigers fans, it was refreshing to see the team show some life, as that has been a common critique of the club in recent years.
In total, eight personnel between the two teams — 5 Yankees and 3 Tigers — were ejected for various roles in the brawl. Suspensions and fines were eventually handed down not long afterwards.