Idaho Falls
55° F
Overcast
Overcast

5 unforgettable sports brawls

By Cydne Washington, Staff writer
Published On: Sep 14 2011 05:14:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 15 2011 09:09:41 PM CDT
Michael Barrett punching A.J. Pierzynski

Frank Polich/Reuters

Being a sports enthusiast can sometimes be a blast -- complete with possible arrest, threats of heavy artillery or the occasional use of tear gas.

There are extremes in every sport but when the discord is too great to qualify as a simple scuffle and the costs are astronomical, the results can be unforgettable.

Yes, we are referring to the seedy yet titillating world of the sports brawl -- where thrills can be found in the intense physicality and raw emotion that can sometimes lead to all out sports bedlam.

But not all sports brawls are created equal. We have compiled a short list of the five biggest brawls, which, even if you weren't lucky -- or unlucky -- enough to witness first-hand, will agree are definitely not to be forgotten.

Up first, we've got some rogue NBA players ... and fans ...

Ron Artest Indiana Pacers 2004

No. 5: Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons, Nov. 19, 2004

One night in Detroit, with 45 seconds left in a game between the Detroit Pistons and the Pacers, Ron Artest of the Pacers fouled the Pistons' Ben Wallace.

Rather than letting the officials sort it out, Wallace forcibly shoved Artest. After being pelted with a beer, Artest then leapt into the crowd where he attacked a spectator.

Many Pacers followed, only escalating the row. Announcers stated that Detroit had "gone berserk" and pleaded that security be sent. Scattered authorities began attempting to stop the most vehement participants but the atmosphere remained tense. The Pacers coach finally escorted Artest out; simultaneously shielding him.

The game was technically over because none of the officials could be seen anywhere.

Consequences: Artest was suspended for the entire season, amounting to 73 games and the longest suspension in league history. Wallace was suspended for only six games.

Of course, if you like your brawl with a side of baseball ...

Braves Padres 1984 brawl

No. 4: San Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves, Aug. 12, 1984

This series of brawls was more like a never-ending feud that was occasionally interrupted by the playing of actual baseball.

It began immediately with the opening pitch, when Atlanta's Pascual Perez hit a Padres' batter. When Perez was at bat in the second inning, the pitcher retaliated by aiming directly at him.

Perez waved his bat threateningly and the benches cleared in what would be the first scuffle of many. The Padres continued to throw at Perez every time he came to bat.

All told, there were fights in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings, as the fans threw beer and rushed the field to tackle players. The benches cleared numerous times and punches were thrown.

Thanks to the wonder of video and the good graces of the MLB, you can even watch the action for yourself more than two decades later on the MLB's website.

Consequences: Thirteen players and coaches were ejected. Perez and a few other players were suspended for three games. Five fans were arrested. Padres' manager Dick Williams was suspended for several days and fined $10,000.

Next up, what goes better with hockey than tear gas?

Maurice 'Rocket' Richard of Montreal Canadiens

No. 3: Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins, March 13, 1955

During a hockey match that will live in infamy, Bruins' player Hal Laycoe sticked Canadiens' star Maurice "Rocket" Richard hard in the face.

When Richard realized he was bleeding, he rushed Laycoe, striking him. Using multiple sticks, Richard broke one on Laycoe's back. Richard even struck an official.

Boston police officers were intent on charging Richard but left without incident after learning that the issue would be handled by NHL president, Clarence Campbell. Campbell suspended Richard for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, sparking massive protest.

The aftermath would be apparent the next night, though, when Campbell boldly appeared at the Canadiens vs. Red Wings match. A tear gas bomb went off and all 50-60,000 people poured outside.

Consequences: 16 people were arrested and fined $25 each (a week's salary back then), eight policeman and 25 fans were injured. Damages totaled around $100,000.

Up next, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ...

water polo ball floating in pool

No. 2: Soviet Union vs. Hungary, Dec. 6, 1956

The "Blood in the Water" match was a water polo game between Hungary and the USSR at the 1956 Olympics.

Taking place around the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, it was played in front of a crowd who despised the Soviets at the time. The Hungarians planned to distract the Russians by taunting them with personal insults.

Things got even rougher in the water. Kicks and punches were exchanged shortly after the taunts began. Ervin Zádor of Hungary was goading opponent Valentin Prokopov when Prokopov struck him, causing him to bleed around the eye.

Zádor left the pool, and his bleeding was the last straw for a crowd already maddened by the match within its larger context. Many enraged spectators jumped down to the water's edge, shook their fists, shouted abuse and spat at the Russians. To avoid a riot, police dispersed the crowd with only one minute to go.

Consequences: Hungary was awarded the win and went on to earn gold.

Our last sports brawl shows that soccer is much more than just a game ...

soccer ball on grass field

No. 1: The Football War, June 1969

The Football War -- also known as the Soccer War -- was a brief but violent war fought by El Salvador and Honduras. It was caused by political conflicts between the two countries, namely regarding immigration issues.

The imminent war coincided with the inflamed rioting during a North American qualifying round for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. In the midst of the mounting tensions, the teams engaged in a three-game elimination match as a preliminary to the World Cup.

There was already unrest during the first game, but the rioting was almost volcanic during the second match in San Salvador; causing the casual observer to conclude that the ensuing bloodbath was caused solely by resentments over soccer, thus dubbing the conflict the "Soccer" or "Football" War.

Consequences: Both sides of the Football War suffered extensive casualties. Some 20,000 Hondurans and another 80,000 Salvadorans were displaced due to the battle.

Amazingly, even with all of sports' dangers and risks, we still love to see what will happen next.

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Advertisement