The LA Angels have been a major league team now for over 50 years now. In that time, they have had a few brush backs, thrown a few themselves, and even been in a couple rounds of fisticuffs.
June 6th, 1999 tempers flared between rivals, the LA Angels (Anaheim at the time) and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chan Ho Park had knocked down Angels batter Randy Velarde three times earlier in the game. This apparently angered Angels pitcher (and former Dodger) Tim Belcher enough, that when Park laid down a sac bunt and the pitcher fielded it he thumped Park in the chest when tagging him out. Park took exception to the tag, and gestured at Belcher. According to Park, Belcher said some unkind things to him. In response, Park kicked Belcher.
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It wasn’t Park’s first row with the Angels. Two seasons prior, in July 1997 Park infuriated Angels leadoff hitter Tony Phillips and a fracass ensued. However, it was nowhere near as interesting as the kick, which you can still find on-line.
The June 6th fight is one of the more interesting fights in Los Angeles Angels history. However, they have had a few that rivaled it.
The Angels were involved in a outright brawl with the Kansas City Royals in 1998.The benches emptied twice in that game. Sucker punches, retaliations, and still more retaliations, and then massive suspensions.
The Angels-Royals brouhaha in fact had its roots in something that probably illustrates just why most of these fights are stupid with a heavy helping of dangerous. In 1997 Phil Nevin played for the Detroit Tigers. In a home plate collision with Royals catcher, Mike Sweeney the conflict was born. Nevin was the Angels catcher when they played the Royals on June 2nd, 1998. Unbeknownst to some on the Royals, Nevin and Sweeney had settled their differences before the two teams met in June.
Royals pitcher Chris Haney hit Nevin in the back in the fifth inning. Nevin glared at the pitcher, but took his base. Royals reliever Jim Pittsley hit Nevin in the neck during his next at bat. This time Nevin charged the mound and the first mele broke out. While that one ended rather mildly, a bean ball war ensued.
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Managers for both teams were suspended, along with coaches for both (including Joe Maddon and former catcher Jamie Quirk.) In the eighth inning, LA Angels reliever Rich DeLucia hit Dean Palmer. In the top of the ninth, Royal reliever Scott Service planted a fastball in the thigh of the Angels outfielder, Darin Erstad. Angels reliever Mike Holtz buzzed a pitch in to Jose Offerman in the bottom of the ninth and the rumble got underway. Royals middle infielder Felix Martinez sucker punched the Angels Frank Bolic and pitcher Jack McDowell returned fire, punching Martinez. A Royals coach heaved Martinez off the field, likely saving the infielder. Martinez had earlier in the season broke Otis Nixon’s jaw with a kick to the face at second base.
Twelve ejections later, the Angels quelled a late rally. Troy Percival came on for one of his 316 saves as an Angel. A week later, American League president Gene Budig suspended nine players. Nineteen years later it remains an ugly example of how the whole retaliation thing in baseball is flawed at best. And how it can be downright dangerous at its worst.
Perhaps the craziest fight in Southern California baseball history tied to a Los Angeles Angels franchise was the Pacific Coast League team. They are the inspiration for the Angels name (and players played for both teams.)
A hit batsmen, a pitcher charged by the hit batsmen, and an injury to a third baseman by a spikes up slide led to a total mele. Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Parker was watching the game at home. When order did return to the game he ended up dispatching officers to the game to help end the hostlities.
Every fan enjoys strategy and a good rivalry. Many fans may even enjoy a good round of fisticuffs. However, lobbing baseballs at bodies at 90+ mph is assault in any situation off a baseball field. The player being hit has spikes on their shoes. They have a bat in their hands. A hard helmet on their head. Given these facts, fisticuffs would be a good outcome. However, as we saw with Bryce Harper, in the heat of the moment he appeared to abort drilling another player with a hard helmet at close range. But Harper nearly did drill him with the helmet. At close range.