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Wild Beanball Brawl Between Yanks and Indians in the Bronx

Aug. 21, 1963 - A bitter beanball battle between Cleveland and New York pitchers resulted in one of the wildest free-for-alls in Yankee Stadium’s 40-year history tonight, with one combatant suffering a spike wound and a number of others nursing minor injuries. Oh yes, the Yankees took both ends of the doubleheader by identical 3-1 scores. Players were fighting, wrestling, kicking, scratching, pushing, tugging, swearing, screaming, and rolling in the dust. The stands were rocking. The crowd of 25,000, which rarely, if ever, had seen anything like this, was caught in the frenzy and shouted wild words of encouragement to their heroes. Some of the more zealous ones even vaulted the barriers and attempted to get in their licks. The most damaged party was Larry Brown, rookie Cleveland shortstop, who limped off the field of battle with one foot requiring four stitches. Teammate Dick Howser suffered a minor spike wound. Birdie Tebbetts, the Cleveland manager, had a cut on the instep of his left foot, and Yankee manager Ralph Houk pulled a thigh muscle during a tugging contest with an unidentified adversary. Cleveland pitcher Gary Bell and Joe Pepitone of the Yankees played lead roles in the fracas. Bell drew an automatic fine of $50 for what plate umpire Lou DiMuro interpreted as deliberately throwing at Pepitone. Pepitone was ejected by DiMuro for charging Bell and punching Cleveland first baseman Fred Whitfield, who was attempting to restrain him. Pepitone was pulled off Whitfield and had to be held down by players from both sides. Whitfield suffered head and face bruises. Unsurprisingly, Houk placed the blame for the melee squarely on the Cleveland pitchers, who he charged were deliberately targeting Pepitone because he was “a hot hitter.” Tebbetts responded with biting sarcasm: “When I played ball, the only ones we threw at were .300 hitters. They don’t have any .300 hitters.” Tebbetts continued: “What can they gain by getting into a beef with us? As it happened, our young shortstop was the only one seriously hurt. But it could just as well have been Bobby Richardson or some other top-flight Yankee. Then what?”


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