Thirty-one years ago today, the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres emptied their benches and threw down in what we now remember as the “bean-brawl game.”
The Padres decided to throw at Braves starting pitcher Pascual Perez after he hit San Diego’s leadoff man, Alan Wiggins, in the back on the game’s first pitch. Not only did they throw at Perez, but to get the point across, they did so four times. However, they didn’t actually hit him until his last at-bat, in the eighth inning, leading to the day’s biggest fight.
The video (with commentary from the Braves broadcast team) is below, and it’s worth revisiting. (Spoiler alert: fans get taken off in handcuffs.)
It’s worth noting another fight occurred in the ninth, after Atlanta retaliated. Also note a young Joe Torre calling the shots for the Braves.
• SI Vault: Take Me Out to the Brawl Game
SI’s Ron Fimrite wrote about the incident back in 1984. “It would’ve been a lot simpler if we’d hit Perez his first time up,” Padres catcher Terry Kennedy said. “We missed him three times at bat. The whole thing got pretty ridiculous. It’s bad to have kids watch something like this.”
Head umpire John McSherry, who ejected 13 players altogether and cleared both dugouts after the ninth-inning fracas, said afterward the game was “the worst thing I’ve seen in my life” and it had “set baseball back 50 years.”
Padres reserve infielder Tim Flannery liked the way his teammates defended each other. “These guys care about each other, they take up for one another,” said Flannery. “We used to have players who didn’t care about each other.”
Padres manager Dick Williams was fined $10,000 and given a 10-day suspension, later arguing that he was protecting his team’s honor. That’s debatable, but what’s clear is baseball was gifted one of its most bizarre, absurd on-field altercations.
As it went, there were three separate brawls in the game and five fans were arrested. Gotta love the '80s. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured.
The Padres went on to the World Series, but lost to Detroit in five games. And the Braves held out and won the game, 5-3.
- Jeremy Woo