Juan Marichal. Pascual Perez. Kermit Washington. Ron Artest.
Anyone who has a dark fascination with the worst on-field incidents in sports history knows those names. Garrett, the Cleveland Browns defensive end who yanked off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and hit him in the head with it, will be on that list forever now too.
Is it the worst on-field act we’ve seen in sports? Let’s take a look at some of the worst brawls across major American sports:
Juan Marichal hits John Roseboro with a bat
In 1965, San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal crossed a line that hasn’t been crossed in Major League Baseball before or since. He hit Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro in the head with a bat.
Marichal and Sandy Koufax had taken turns brushing back hitters in the early innings. With Marichal at the plate, Roseboro’s throw back to Koufax buzzed right past Marichal’s head. Marichal took exception and hit Roseboro with his bat, sparking a brawl.
Roseboro needed 14 stitches and Marichal got suspended for 10 games and fined a then-record $1,750, according to ESPN. Roseboro sued Marichal seeking $110,000 in damages and the two settled, with Roseboro getting $7,500.
Kermit Washington punches Rudy Tomjanovich
During an on-court fight in 1977, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kermit Washington turned and punched Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets. The impact of the punch shattered Tomjanovich’s face and nearly cost him his life. Tomjanovich sued the Lakers and reached a $2 million settlement.
Washington was fined $10,000 and suspended 60 days. Washington played 10 NBA seasons, making one All-Star team, but he’ll always be remembered for the punch.
Mike Milbury hits fan with his own shoe
A 1979 fight between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers spilled into the stands after Rangers fan John Kaptain reached over the glass, hit a Bruins player with a rolled-up program and grabbed his stick.
Some Bruins went into the stands and it led to Bruins defenseman Mike Milbury yanking Kaptain’s shoe off and hitting him with it. Milbury ended up as a head coach of two teams and a longtime analyst for NBC’s hockey coverage.
Padres and Braves have insane brawl(s)
To start a 1984 game against the San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Perez drilled lead-off hitter Alan Wiggins in the back. That led to the Padres throwing at Perez all four times he came to the plate, and an eighth-inning brawl that never seemed to end after the Padres finally plunked Perez. Fans in Atlanta even got involved. Then there was another brawl in the ninth inning.
There were 13 players ejected and the end of the game was played with each bench empty, because umpire John McSherry had sent players who weren’t in the game back to their clubhouses. McSherry said the game "set baseball back 50 years."
Andrew Golata’s low blows against Riddick Bowe leads to riot
A heavyweight fight between Golata and Bowe led to a wild fracas at Madison Square Garden that seemed to include everyone in the arena.
Golata was disqualified for repeated low blows. Bowe’s handlers charged at Golata, which led to a crazy scene in the ring that lasted several minutes. Lou Duva, Golata’s legendary trainer, was knocked down in the ring and left on a stretcher. The fights ended up spilling into the stands. Even in the sometimes wild history of boxing brawls, the Bowe-Golata riot in the ring was a memorable one.
“I can say that in 21 years of reporting as a sport reporter and news anchor, I’ve never been involved in a more personally terrifying situation,” announcer Jim Lampley said on the HBO broadcast, with the fight still going on behind him. “This ring has been stormed by thugs and hooligans.”
Armando Benitez starts Orioles, Yankees brawl
If the 1984 Padres-Braves brawl isn’t the wildest in MLB history, then it might be the Orioles-Yankees brawl from 1998.
Orioles relief pitcher Armando Benitez drilled Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez after giving up a home run, leading to a long fight. The fight seemed to be dying down when Darryl Strawberry punched Benitez, and the fight spilled into the Orioles dugout. Five players were suspended.
‘Malice at the Palace’
There’s probably no more famous fight in sports history than the 2004 brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons that included multiple fans. It was nicknamed “Malice at the Palace.”
There was a fight on the court after a hard foul by Ron Artest of the Pacers on Pistons forward Ben Wallace. It was settling down when Artest decided to lay on the scorer’s table. A fan threw a drink at him, prompting Artest and some other Pacers to go into the stands, setting off a wild, chaotic scene that nobody will forget.
Artest ended up getting suspended for the rest of the season, a ban that ended up totaling 86 games including playoffs. Artest’s teammate Stephen Jackson got a 30-game suspension. Five Pacers players and five fans faced charges.
Albert Haynesworth stomps Andre Gurode
The Haynesworth incident wasn’t a typical brawl, but it is a reasonable comparison to the Myles Garrett situation.
In a 2006 game between the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys, Gurode was on the ground after his helmet was knocked off. Haynesworth saw him and stomped on his head before walking away.
Haynesworth was suspended five games, which was a record for an on-field incident. Vontaze Burfict was suspended 12 games after a helmet-to-helmet hit this season, but Burfict got a long suspension for repeat violations.
Miami fights with Florida International
A 2006 college football game between Miami and Florida International got testy, with a lot of trash talking. After a touchdown, a fight broke out following the extra point. Players from both sides got involved, players came off the bench to join, and 31 players ended up getting suspended.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the brawl was former Hurricanes receiver Lamar Thomas, in his role as a color commentator for the television broadcast, saying, “You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don't come into the OB [Orange Bowl] playing that stuff.” Thomas was fired from his job at Comcast Sports SouthEast.
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