Since its founding over 150 years ago, the game of baseball has had its share of ups & downs, along with plenty of bizarre moments along the way. We’ve mentioned a few of them before, but it turns out many more wacky moments have gone and gone since the sport’s inception. Such as …
10. Paul O’Neill Plays Soccer
On July 5th, 1989 the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning. A line drive was hit to Reds right fielder Paul O’Neill. O’Neill struggled to get a hold of the ball and, in frustration, he punted the damn thing to first base. Not only did his kick have enough power to reach first, it was accurate and prevented a runner from scoring.
9. Rick Dempsey’s Rain Delay Theater
In the late 1970’s, Rick Dempsey was the catcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Dempsey was a colorful fellow, known for being a great defensive catcher and for his rain delay “performances,” which have become known as Rick Dempsey’s Rain Delay Theater.
During rain delays, Dempsey would wait until the tarp was soaked. He would then stuff a pillow under his jersey, take off his cleats, proceed to home plate with a bat in hand, and imitate Babe Ruth calling his shot. He would run to first and dive head first into the base, using the soaked tarp as a slip ‘n slide!
He would do this for every base as he rounded home. He would imitate Babe Ruth pitching, pretend to strike out batters, and disagree with imaginary catchers on pitches. His theater entertained countless fans during dreary delays.
8. Yankees Teammates Throw Down
On July 22, 1977 at Fenway Park, the Yankees were playing their bitter rivals, the Red Sox. Yankee manager Billy Martin believed that Reggie Jackson was too slow at fielding a ball, so he had him removed him from the game. Reggie was not happy about this, so he confronted Martin in the dugout. Words got heated, Martin threw a punch, and the two Yankees began to trade blows. The fight was quickly broken up, though a fight between two teammates in front of a sold out crowd in their rival’s stadium remains one of the most embarrassing moments in Yankees history.
7. Joe Niekro Gets Caught Filing
Joe Niekro is known as one of the best knuckleball pitchers of all time. On August 3, 1987 he was pitching for the Minnesota Twins against the Los Angles Angels. During the game, his knuckleball had less spin then normal and more movement. By the 4th inning, home plate umpire Tim Tschida knew something was up. He suspected Joe was using an emery board to file the baseball between pitches to make gripping the ball easier. He asked to see Joe’s glove (a common place to hide one) and asked him to empty out his pockets. Joe emptied his front pockets, which contained nothing. His left back pocket contained a picture of his son, and his right contained the emery board.
While the umps were distracted examining his glove & photo, he attempted to throw the emery board to the side. One of the umps saw this, and Joe was caught red handed. He was suspended ten games for modifying a baseball.
6. A Flag Burning at Dodgers Stadium
On April 25, 1976, the Chicago Cubs were playing the Los Angles Dodgers. It was a normal game until the bottom of the 4th inning, when radical William Thomas and his 11-year-old son ran to the outfield, attempting to set fire to an American flag. While they were attempting to set it ablaze, the crowd began to boo. Soon, Cubs outfielder Rick Monday ran over and snatched the flag from the father-son duo. The scoreboard then flashed the message “RICK MONDAY… YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…”
5. Merkle’s Boner
On September 23, 1908, the Chicago Cubs were playing the NY Giants at the Polo Grounds. In the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied 1-1 with two outs. Moose McCormick of the Giants was on first, and Fred Merkle was up to bat. Merkle hit a line drive single down and advanced McCormick to third. Shortstop Al Bridwell stepped up to the plate and hit a single to center. This sent McCormick home and caused the Giants to win the National League Championship … or so they thought.
As McCormick rounded home, Merkle started towards second. Fans ran on the field to celebrate, which was apparently something you could do back then. Merkle stopped half way through his run and ran to the dugout to avoid being trampled, which was something players most certainly could not do. Cubs center fielder Solly Hofmann threw the ball to second baseman Johnny Evers, who tagged second. Since Merkle was too busy dancing to run, he was called out, which cost the Giants the pennant.
4. The World Series Interrupted by an Earthquake
In October 1989, the Battle of the Bay was raging on between the Oakland A’s and the San Fransisco Giants in the World Series. Game 3 of the Series was held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Everything seemed ready to go for the scheduled 5:35 PM start. However, the game would be cancelled because at 5:04 the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the city. The 7.1 quake lasted 10 to 15 seconds, and became the first earthquake broadcast on live TV.
MLB commissioner Fay Vincent decided to delay the game for five days to give the the players and the city a chance to recover. However, after the five days were up, the city needed him to delay the game for another five days so transmission lines could be restored. These ten days resulted in the longest delay in World Series history.
3. The Cleveland Indians (Almost) Pull Off A Bat Heist
On July 15, 1994 the Cleveland Indians were playing the White Sox at Comiskey park in Chicago. As Albert Belle of the Indians was walking to the plate during the first inning, Sox manager Gene Lamont was tipped off by an unknown source that Belle was using a corked bat. Lamont called timeout and told umpire Dave Phillips this information. Philips then confiscated the bat and locked it in the umpires’ dressing room, to be examined later.
The Indians knew the bat was corked, but they couldn’t let their star player be suspended. They did what any team in this dire situation would do: orchestrate a Frank Ocean-style heist to steal it back. They recruited reliever Jason Grimsley to head to the ump’s locker room and replace the offending bat with a non-corked one. Once Grimsley reached the locker room, he kicked in the ceiling and dropped in like a ninja. He quickly switched the bats and returned to the bullpen before anyone noticed he was missing.
As the game played on, it looked like the Indians were going to get away with their caper. However, after the game, the umpires returned to their locker room and noticed clumps of ceiling title all over the floor. Philips inspected the bat and noticed it was not as shinny as the one he took earlier. Chicago police then inspected the locker room for prints, and discovered the path the burglar took.
The Indians were threatened with a burglary charge, and ordered to hand over the bat or the FBI would intervene. They complied, and Albert Belle received his ten-day suspension.
2. Disco Demolition Night
On July 12, 1979, Disco Demolition Night took place in between a double deader of the White Sox vs. the Detroit Tigers. DJ Steve Dahl promised to blow up a dumpster full of disco records, in order to kill the genre once and for all. 20,000 people were expected to attend, 5,000 more then during a normal game. However, over 50,000 wild fans piled into Comiskey Park, way more than anybody could handle.
Once showtime began, Dahl emerged on the field dressed like a general, riding in a jeep. He proceeded to center field where the disco dumpster awaited. Before blowing up the box, Dahl amped up the crowd by chanting “DISCO SUCKS!” He then exploded the dumpster, which created a giant hole in center field. The players then attempted to start Game 2, which failed miserably once overexcited fans began piling onto the field. Eventually, over half the drunken, stoned crowd had overtaken the field — moshing, rioting, and tearing up everything. People were stealing bats and bases, a couple decided to have sex on the field, and some even started a bonfire!
After 20 minutes of rioting, the Chicago Police arrived with the SWAT team to control the scene. The fans scattered, climbed over the walls, and fled from the stadium. Ultimately, only 39 fans were arrested. As for the game, the field was too damaged to play on, and since this was the White Sox’s bright idea, Game 2 was forfeited in favor of the Tigers.
1. 10-Cent Beer Night
Much like today, the 1974 Cleveland Indians had a hard time filling seats. Their last home game drew a crowd of 4,234 fans, so the team desperately needed something that would draw in the crowd. Their solution: 12-ounce glasses of beer for only 10 cents. This initially worked, as 25,134 fans attended the June 4th game.
The problem began around the fourth inning, when massive amounts of liquor (plus the Indians being the Indians) caused a turn for the worse. The Rangers took a 5-1 lead, and the crowd started to get unruly. A woman ran out to the on-deck circle and flashed the Indians, and later in the game a man would streak on the field. During the 9th inning, a fan ran onto the field to try and steal Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs’ hat. In the scuffle, Burroughs tripped and fell. Texas manager Billy Martin, thinking Burroughs was being attacked, charged toward the fan. Several of his players accompanied him, some of whom were wielding bats!
All hell broke lose as intoxicated fans made their way onto the field, while others began to throw bottles. The fans, armed with broken bottles, pieces of chairs, outnumbered & surrounded the Rangers, much like a pack of Orcs surrounding the Fellowship.
Realizing the Rangers may be in danger, Indians manager Ken Aspromonte told his players to grab bats and help them. A total brawl between players & fans soon broke out. Outnumbered, both teams retreated into the locker rooms.
Stadium security could not control the crowd, meaning Cleveland’s Finest had to put an end to things. Though the game was tied, Texas received a victory via forfeit as the game could not be completed, and just like above, it was the home team’s stupid idea to begin with.