Last night, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks dominated headlines throughout the baseball world after a pair of bench-clearing incidents. The two sides traded beanballs, but the real scuffle was ignited by Ian Kennedy when he threw at the head of Zack Greinke in retaliation.
**Side note: if you want to see full video of the Dodgers-Dbacks altercation, visit MLB.com for a four-minute compilation of the events.**
The melee made me think about the biggest bench-clearing incidents in Brewers’ history — with the most notorious Brewers brawl coming against the Seattle Mariners in 1990.
The Brewers and Mariners experienced some bad blood in the late-80s and early-90s. On June 30, 1990, though, things boiled over when Brewers pitcher Bob Sebra intentionally beaned Tracy Jones of the Mariners. Benches cleared. Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn got into the thick of things and reportedly fanned the flames. The brawl ultimately lasted 20-or-30 minutes (depending on the source) and resulted in nine suspensions between the Brewers and Mariners.
For the Brewers, Trebelhorn and Sebra were each suspended for five games, but Gary Sheffield, Mike Felder and B.J. Surhoff also received three-game suspensions for their roles in the fight. Sebra later admitted that he intentionally threw up-and-in at Tracy Jones with the intent to hit him.
When the teams squared off again a few weeks later, Harold Reynolds put it bluntly when informed American League President Bobby Brown was expected to attend the series to serve as a deterrent to further escalation:
“It doesn’t make any difference who’s there,” second baseman Harold Reynolds said. “Even if President Bush was there, you’re not going to be worried about who’s sitting in the stands when some guy’s throwing at your head.”
The drama between the teams obviously created some tension. Some fans even embraced the feud. And although I’m not one who enjoys beanball wars, perhaps my favorite aspect of that epic brawl in the Kingdome is this gem of a story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Agatha Doman was a pastor’s daughter, raised on sermons of love and respect and all things good. She wasn’t one to pick fights, though one Saturday night in the Kingdome, she didn’t back down, either.
A Milwaukee pitcher intentionally pegged a Mariner in the ribs, causing a 20-minute brawl that moved from home plate to first base to the Seattle bullpen. Faces were punched and cut; jerseys were ripped. An umpire later said it was the roughest baseball fight he’d seen.
Mariners first basemen Alvin Davis was being pinned to a wall by a Brewers player, below where Doman sat with her sisters.
“(He) got me so mad that I bopped him,” Doman said, recalling how she nailed the player’s head with her handbag — at age 79.
The woman who swung her way into Mariners folklore and rarely missed a Mariners game in the Kingdome died July 11. Doman was 96.
“She said that when the player turned around, he had the most astonished look on his face,” her daughter, Sharon Doman, said.
One could easily imagine a middle-aged drunken man attempt to “defend his team’s honor” and insert himself into the fray, but a 79-year-old woman hitting a Brewers player with her purse because he was pinning down her favorite team’s first baseman? That’s just terrific.