SEATTLE – Fighting in sports may not be honorable.
But in the high-stakes, highly intense world of major professional athletics, occasional all-out brawls such as the one that erupted between the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels on Sunday may be inevitable.
In that fracas, which lasted roughly 18 minutes, six players – three on each side – and both managers were ejected. Fines and suspensions are also likely, and Mariners catcher Luis Torrens suffered a shoulder injury.
That brouhaha – or dust-up or any of the other words we’ve created through the years to try to politely define such incidents – might have you thinking where it ranks among some of the better fights in major Seattle pro sports team history.
So in that vein, here’s a quick list of five other notable Seattle sports brawls.
This is admittedly not all inclusive, focusing on the three major male pro sports teams that have, for better or worse, tended to have a little more experience with getting in some, well, disagreements on the field or court.
1. Mariners vs. Orioles, June 6, 1993
This might be the king of Seattle sports fights, rated in a 2013 Bleacher Report ninth all time on a list of the “top 10 nastiest and adrenaline-pumping fights in Major League Baseball history” and fifth in a 1999 Associated Press rating of all-time baseball squabbles.
What was a roughly 20-minute clash erupted when Seattle catcher Bill Haselman charged the mound after being hit by a pitch by Baltimore’s Mike Mussina. Haselman had homered earlier in the game and felt maybe he was being targeted.
Some of the Orioles noted later that Seattle starter Chris Bosio had buzzed a few of their hitters earlier in the game.
Seven players – Seattle’s Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner, Tino Martinez and Omar Vizquel – were ejected, as was manager Lou Piniella. Piniella was ejected after restarting an argument with umps when he realized Mussina was not among those who would be ejected. Sadly for Seattle, Bosio reinjured a collarbone and didn’t pitch again for three weeks.
Four Mariners were later suspended, including Haselman for three games.
“I don’t care about my suspension,” Haselman said later. “Three days is nothing.”
Showing that old habits die hard, Haselman – now the catching coach for the Angels – found himself in the midst of Sunday’s brawl and on Monday was suspended for one game.
2. Sonic Xavier McDaniel vs. Los Angeles Laker Wes Matthews, Nov. 24, 1987
This one ranks where it does more for the iconic photo of McDaniel with his hand around Matthews’ throat than for its length or intensity.
Despite how the photo might make things look, McDaniel wasn’t even ejected, receiving just a technical foul, though the benches did briefly empty.
The fracas began when McDaniel tried to steal the ball from Matthews and ran into him, knocking each to the floor. McDaniel said Matthews said something to him, so McDaniel decided to try to literally silence him by placing his hands around Matthews’ throat, if ever so briefly before it was broken up.
3. Seahawks vs. Raiders, Sept. 12, 1994
There were not a lot of highlights for the Seahawks during the forlorn 1990s, but one came early in the 1994 season when Seattle beat the Raiders 38-9 in Los Angeles.
Along the way, Raiders linebacker Winston Moss let his frustration grow and threw what was generally described as a sucker punch at Seattle quarterback Rick Mirer. When Seahawks offensive tackle Ray Roberts jumped in to defend Mirer, a brawl ensued. That led to the immediate ejections of three players – Roberts and Raiders Chester McGlockton and Aundray Bruce. Tempers stayed hot, and Raider Derrick Hoskins was ejected a little later after another fight.
Oddly, Moss was not even penalized for the punch that started it all.
When the dust cleared a few days later, the NFL levied fines to 17 players, including nine Seahawks, reportedly totaling $59,000 combined.
4. Mariners vs. Brewers, June 30, 1990
Maybe it made sense that one of the first big brawls in Mariners history came against the team that was once the Seattle Pilots.
The two teams had some long-simmering tension dating to an incident in a spring-training game the year before when the teams had two fights in one day.
Things boiled over in a game at the Kingdome when Milwaukee pitcher Bob Sebra – after allowing a home run to Jeffrey Leonard and a double to Edgar Martinez – plunked Seattle’s Tracy Jones in the eighth inning.
Jones charged the mound, and all heck broke loose, setting off a brouhaha that took 28 minutes to finally clear.
At one point, Seattle’s Jeff Schaefer body-slammed Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn – who had been particularly agitated throughout and later accused Mariners manager Jim Lefebvre of prolonging the fight – to the ground.
No one was seriously hurt, but eight players were ejected.
Eight also later received suspensions of at least three games each as well as Trebelhorn, who was docked five games.
An Associated Press story at the time stated no baseball fight had resulted in more suspensions. Umpire John Shulock said it was the biggest fight he’d seen in his 17-year career.
5. Richard Sherman vs. Philip Bates, June 18, 2014
The Seahawks have had their fair share of squabbles in the past decade. Maybe two of the most infamous were the brief fight at the end of the 2015 Super Bowl loss that resulted in the ejection of Bruce Irvin and a 2017 defeat at Jacksonville when several fights broke out late and Seattle defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson had to be prevented from going into the stands to fight two fans who threw garbage his way.
Maybe the most noteworthy fight in recent Seahawks history was one among themselves on the practice field in 2014. Certainly, none was more costly to the team’s pocketbook.
In the wake of winning the Super Bowl a few months earlier, things got oddly testy during a minicamp practice in June when Earl Thomas went low and upended receiver Bryan Walters in what was supposed to be a noncontact practice. Walters left with an arm injury and later had his arm in a sling. That resulted in a lot of shouting between the offense and defense (notably longtime close friends Sherman and Doug Baldwin), with the offense feeling the defense had been playing too physically all day.
On the next play, Sherman manned up with Bates – a reserve receiver – at the line and the two began tussling almost the moment the ball was snapped. Many players jumped into the fracas and even more punches were thrown.
Coach Pete Carroll eventually restored order, though hard feelings continued – a bit later in practice, Sherman intercepted a Russell Wilson pass and returned it for a pick-six, flipping the ball underhanded to Wilson, yelling at him along the way. Some national outlets later described that incident as a Sherman-Wilson thing, but those who were there that day understood it was just part of the tension that permeated the entire practice.
No one other than Walters was injured (though he was not seriously hurt), and all involved later downplayed the incident.
The NFL fined the Seahawks $200,000 and Carroll $100,000 and docked Seattle two minicamp practices in 2015 for “permitting the club’s players to engage in excessive levels of on-field physical contact during the team’s 2014 mandatory minicamp for veteran players.”
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