One of the most memorable events in Chicago sports history occurred 14 years ago Wednesday.
During the Crosstown Classic at U.S. Cellular Field, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punched White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the face, starting a bench-clearing fight on the South Side.
Pierzynski scored on a sac fly, trucking Barrett, who was blocking home plate, in the process. Barrett took exception to Pierzynski enthusiastically slapping the plate, and as the Sox backstop stood up, Barrett corralled him in a bear hug and landed a clean right hook on Pierzynski's cheek.
After the dust settled, MLB handed Barrett a 10-game suspension and Pierzynski a $2,000 fine. Sox outfielder Brian Anderson received a five-game ban and $3,000 fine, and Sox bench coach Joey Cora a two-game ban and an undisclosed fine.
That's one memory to last a lifetime. On the anniversary of Barrett vs. Pierzynski, here are five other memorable Cubs bench-clearing incidents since 2000:
Kyle Farnsworth drops Reds’ Paul Wilson
Former Cubs reliever Kyle Farnsworth is a big dude. As in, he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. So, if you’re going to go at him, you best not miss.
Reds pitcher Paul Wilson missed on June 19, 2003.
Wilson was attempting to get a bunt down when a Farnsworth fastball ran up and in on him. After exchanging a few words and engaging in brief a stare down, the two pitchers charged one another.
Farnsworth picked Wilson up by his waist, slammed him down and got a few punches in before the two were separated. Both pitchers were fined, though Wilson was suspended five games compared to Farnsworth’s three (later reduced to two).
Reds infielder Russell Branyan was also fined.
Derrek Lee vs. Padres’ Chris Young
Speaking of big dudes, two heavyweights in Derrek Lee (6-foot-5, 240) and Chris Young (6-foot-10, 255) got into it on June 16, 2007. Young hit Lee on the back of his upper left arm — one season after Lee missed several months with a broken right wrist.
Lee exchanged pleasantries with Young on his way to first base before coming to an abrupt halt and taking a swing at Young’s face. He didn’t land his punch, but he and Young did land five-game suspensions and fines.
Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry was suspended three games and fined; Padres’ Jake Peavy and Brian Giles were handed undisclosed fines.
Anthony Rizzo takes on Reds bench
On July 10, 2014, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw multiple 100+ mph fastballs near Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz' head. After striking Schierholtz out, Chapman took a long stroll and stare towards the Cubs’ third-base dugout, drawing the ire of Anthony Rizzo.
Chapman got out of the inning and dismissively waved his glove at the Cubs bench. Rizzo assumed his defensive position at first base and took offense to something said from the Reds’ dugout, charging them solo. No punches were thrown.
After the game, Rizzo said he has “the utmost respect” for the Reds” and hopes the matter was resolved. It wasn’t a big incident, but a memorable one at the end of the Cubs' rebuild.
Wild Card Game skirmish
Jake Arrieta mowed down the Pirates in the 2015 NL Wild Card Game, tossing a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts. He hit two batters mid-game, and the Pirates responded by beaning him near the hip in the seventh inning, trailing 4-0.
The benches cleared, with Sean Rodriguez — who was subbed out of the game before his first at-bat — unforgettably being in the middle of the scrum. He appeared to throw a punch towards David Ross, who apparently grabbed Rodriguez around the neck.
Rodriguez was the only player ejected. He took his anger out on a Gatorade cooler before going to the clubhouse and later apologized for letting his emotions get the best of him.
Cubs-Marlins tickle fight
Lewis Brinson hit a single to right field on May 8, 2018, but Ben Zobrist threw an absolute strike to nail Derek Dietrich at home plate. Dietrich was out by 10 feet, so he pushed Victor Caratini in an attempt to knock the ball free.
Benches cleared at Wrigley 😤 pic.twitter.com/4XQmUjJvCL— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) May 9, 2018
Caratini and Dietrich had a brief conversation as the benches cleared, and hilarity ensued afterwards. Kris Bryant snuck up on former Cubs teammate Starlin Castro, unleashing a wicked tickle to Castro's torso.
Rizzo then shoved Castro in the back, and the two laughed it off — once Castro saw who pushed him.
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