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1974: Cubs v. Cardinals Brawl

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September 22, 1974.

Some simple gamesmanship got out of hand in St. Louis, resulting in one of the great ’70s moments in one of the greatest baseball rivalries of all time.

Chicago Cub Bill Madlock came to the plate against crazy Cardinals closer Al Hrabosky.   Madlock, eager to rise to the occasion for the Cubs in a tight,  late-inning matchup, watched as the 25 year-old Hrabosky built up his rage on the mound, a routine that included abusing the rosin bag and stalking around the rubber like a caged beast.

With Hrabosky finally set to pitch, Madlock stepped out of the batter’s box to apply more pine tar to his bat.   When Madlock stepped back in, Hrabosky re-started his angry routine, and when the “Mad Hungarian” prepared to come to the plate, Madlock walked away again.

This display continued for a few more cycles in front of plate umpire Shag Crawford and Cardinals’ catcher Ted Simmons.  Finally, Crawford signaled he’d had enough.  He wanted Hrabosky to pitch and for Madlock to hit.  And they did.

Crawford first told the Cubs he’d had enough of the act, and with on-deck batter Jose Cardenal and Chicago manager Jim Marshall in his wake, Crawford charged to the plate and ordered Hrabosky to deliver.

Hrabosky threw a fastball that Simmons stretched to catch, and Crawford signaled strike one.  Madlock joined the crowd at home plate and, for a moment, lined up with his bat alongside Cardenal’s to face Hrabosky’s second pitch, which barely missed Madlock’s chin.

Simmons rose from his crouch to further address the issue with Madlock, and the brawl was on.  The fight was notable for Simmons’ first punch connecting with Madlock, followed by Simmons getting drilled from the back by a host of Cubs, charging from the dugout to participate with glee.  Unlike today’s genteel facedowns, this one was a wild, haymaker-throwing affair in which no target was spared.

In the end, there was only one ejection, and it wasn’t Simmons.  The Cardinals’ catcher returned to the plate later in the game with a bat of his own, and singled-in the winning run for the 6-5 St. Louis victory.

 

 

 

 

 

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