On this date 23 years ago, the Texas Rangers’ Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox in the back with a pitch. While Chicago might lead the country in homicides year after year, they don’t stand a chance against Texas when it comes to hand-to-hand combat.
At the time, Ryan was 46 and Ventura was 26. After being hit in the back with a Ryan Express fastball, I can understand why Ventura thought he might have an edge on someone 20 years his elder and charged the mound. Big mistake.
In what turned out to be one of the most infamous fights in baseball history, Ryan put Ventura in a headlock and showed that his right arm was good for more than pitching as he rained blows upon him. Ryan would later revel in the fact that he uses a similar maneuver on the steers on his ranch. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Ventura was ejected from the game. As for Ryan, he was allowed to continue pitching and didn’t allow a hit the rest of the day. That’s the way it should be — if you lose the fight, you’re gone. This gives the players some extra incentive to win these fights.
Ryan’s beatdown of Ventura will live on forever. He’s further proof that they don’t make them like they used to.
Remember, batters: you don’t mess with Texas..