10 MLB Players Who Went Completely Bonkers on Umpires
Baseball can be a heated game at times. Umpires try to make all the right calls, but sometimes there’s reason to protest, especially when the game is on the line.
Managers like Earl Weaver, Lou Piniella, Ozzie Guillen, and Bobby Cox made names for themselves as fierce opponents of some calls, making for some humorously and memorable moments as they totally lost their cool on the diamond. On other occasions, players have been known to stand up for themselves and challenge umpires for what they perceived as blown calls. The Blue Jays’ Brett Lawrie is just the latest to join the fray. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite player vs. umpire meltdowns:
After thinking he walked, Lawrie was summoned back to home plate by umpire Bill Miller during a game against the Rays on Tuesday night, and he went absolutely bananas. Lawrie threw down his helmet in disgust, which landed at an angle, causing it to immediately bounce back up into Miller. It earned Lawrie a four-game suspension. Miller’s abuse didn’t end there, though. A fan hurled a beer at him as he headed off the field.
The infamous “pine tar” incident further propelled Brett to stardom in 1983 when the Yankees challenged Brett’s bat he used to hit a home run against them. After the umpires reviewed the bat, they concluded that Brett had violated a league rule and applied too much of the substance to his bat. Brett, perhaps reasonably, charged out of the dugout after he was ruled out. The league eventually decided that Brett shouldn’t have been tossed, and the Royals finally got the win 25 days afterward.
A couple weeks ago, Young’s temper got the best of him when he went on a drunken anti-Semitic tirade in New York City which earned him some time off. Unfortunately, this wasn’t Young’s first example of bad behavior. Or should we say bat behavior. When Young was a minor leaguer in 2006, he got so inflamed after a called third strike that he tossed his bat toward home plate. It struck the umpire, too, who immediately threw young out of the game. It got him a 50-game suspension.
Sometimes losing control of your temper has bigger consequences. In 2007, the notoriously hot-headed Bradley, then a member of the Padres, went crazy after a close play at first base. It got so heated that Padres manager Bud Black had to restrain Bradley (or at least try to). During the melee, Bradley tore his ACL, which put him on the DL for the rest of the team’s pennant race. Wonder if he regretted his actions.
In one of the most historic meltdowns in recent history, Dawson, then with the Cubs, went absolutely nuts during a 1991 game after being called out on a called third strike by home plate umpire Joe West. What happened next was mayhem. Dawson bumped West, then Dawson returned to the dugout only to throw bats onto the field, to the delight of the hometown Chicago crowd. Fans started to throw beer cups and other objects onto the field, causing a disruption in the action.
Rauch got so mad after a call at home during a 2011 game that he lost his shirt. Seriously. Rauch’s six-foot-10 frame left him a candidate for one of the most awkward standoffs with an umpire, and it took several of his teammates to drag him away toward the dugout. With the level of vitriol Rauch was exhibiting that afternoon, the ump and fans might have gotten off easy that Rauch walked away when he did.
During the 14th inning of a 2010 game, Howard was thrown out after protesting a close check swing call. It caused him to confront third base umpire Scott Barry all the way up the line. Imagine having the six-five, 250-pound slugger coming after you with full force. Phillies players and another umpire were able to restrain Howard long enough to keep him from manhandling Barry, and eventually Howard was led off the field.
We may never know what it was that umpire John Hirschbeck said to Alomar during a 1996 game that prompted the second baseman to spit at Hirschbeck. It’s one of baseball’s sorrier moments, but also one that Alomar moved on from shortly afterward. Alomar was suspended five games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011, showing that even for the league bygones were better left bygones.
Harper was ejected from the Junior College World Series in 2010 after a questionable third strike call. As Harper stepped out of the batters’ box and headed back toward his dugout, he drew a line in the sand that flicked dirt up at the ump. He was promptly tossed from the game, his last before declaring for the majors. It’s forgivable, though. Harper was just 17 at the time of the incident.
Sometimes the officiating can get so bad that a player winds up getting support from his manager. During a 2008 game. Beltran and teammate Carlos Delgado were so outraged by a strike call that manager Jerry Manuel joined in on the rage. Beltran wound up getting tossed, and the Mets needed just about everyone they have available in the dugout to come and control the situation.