Ryan v. Ventura: The 16th Anniversary

While I was away, I missed a very important anniversary: It’s been 16 years since Nolan Ryan took Robin Ventura to the woodshed:

Baseball fights are often frowned upon, but this is just another small classic nuggett in baseball’s illustrious past. Why else would it be replayed constantly on the major sports outlets and talked about so fondly in baseball lore? It’s because it was a classic case of that old parable, the old bull knocking the young bull off the hill one last time before he rode off into the sunset. There’s something storybook about that.

I remember the situation distinctly. Earlier in the game, the White Sox pitcher had beaned a Rangers batter.  So Ryan’s beaning of Ventura was retaliatory, and Ventura probably knew it was coming as soon as he stepped into the batter’s box.

According to the Great Unwritten Code of Baseball, if you hit one of ours, we hit one of yours. But there’s nothing in the code that says the beanie has to like it, and if you seem like the type who might engage the beaner in fisticuffs (or what passes for it in baseball) then you might be less likely to be the beanie in the future.

So, what we had here was just two guys doing what they had to do.  Only the verteran did it much better than the youngster, which made it both memorable and hilarious.

Years later I went to a game at the Ballpark at Arlington, and they had a picture of the pummeling for sale in the gift shop, autographed by both of the participants.  I think that MLB should use it as their logo.  That’s baseball, baby.

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