14. Al Cowens vs. Ed Farmer, 1980
Detroit Tigers outfielder Al Cowens and Chicago White Sox pitcher Ed Farmer had some beef to settle in 1980. The year before, Farmer had drilled Cowens in the face with a pitch and broken his jaw. The Tigers outfielder held a grudge, which might be fair considering having a broken jaw isn’t the greatest thing ever.
On June 20, the Tigers and White Sox were locked in an extra-inning game when Cowens dug in at the plate to face Farmer. There was no second beanball in the cards, and Farmer put a pitch over the plate that Cowens grounded to shortstop for an easy out. That should have settled things, right?
Wrong. Cowens never made it to first base. Instead, he took a sharp u-turn right to the mound and attacked Farmer in one of the more surprising brawls in baseball history. The pitcher was tackled from behind, and Cowens was ejected from the game. His punishment did not stop there, however.
Cowens was suspended for seven games and fined. Farmer actually decided to file charges in Cook County Circuit Court and a warrant was issued for Cowens’ arrest for an assault charge. As it turns out, the police are willing to take an unprovoked attack on the diamond a lot more seriously than a run-of-the-mill fistfight over an unwritten rules violation.
The outfielder was never actually arrested, but he did have to skip his team’s next trip to Chicago, which had him labeled a coward by White Sox fans for the rest of his career. He would eventually bury the hatchet with Farmer.