It has been 39 years since the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres had a benches-clearing brawl that would eventually be dubbed the “bean-brawl game.”
Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins in the back on the first pitch of the game. Wiggins and Perez had apparently been jawing back and forth during the game on August 11th as Wiggins repeatedly tried to lay down bunts for base hits but Perez reportedly told him to "swing the bat".
Naturally, the Padres took exception to this and decided they would retaliate against Perez. It's not that they threw at Perez once that upset everyone, though. It's that they did so four times during the game and didn't hit him until the fourth time.
Both teams received warnings since Perez hit Wiggins and the Padres starter, Ed Whitson, tried to hit the Braves starter in the second inning but missed resulting in a wild pitch. Whitson threw at Perez two more times later in the bottom of the fourth inning and was ejected from the game. This would be the first of many ejections.
Then came the fireworks in the eighth inning as Padres reliever, Craig Lefferts, hit Pascual on the fourth attempt and was ejected immediately. The benches cleared with the bullpens emptied soon after. Punches were thrown, players went to the ground and it was chaos. Padres infielder Champ Summers decided to charge the Atlanta dugout looking for Perez but Bob Horner, who was on the IL with a broken hand, stepped in to try and stop things from going farther.
Out of nowhere, while confronting Summers, fans jumped down from the stands on top of Summers and Horner. They were trying to fight Summers and the fans would end up being arrested and taken off of the field.
There were three separate brawls in the game and five fans total were arrested. No one was seriously injured during these brawls, thankfully. The 80s were a wild time because that's not something I think we would see happen today with all the safety measures they have in place.
More fights broke out on the field after the fans got on the field. There were multiple fights during all of the chaos but eventually, the umpires would gain control of things. Joe Torre, then manager of the Braves, had a long conversation on the field with the umpires. In total, 11 players were ejected between both teams so far.
Another fight broke out in the 9th inning after Atlanta retaliated and hit another batter. Atlanta reliever Donnie Moore hit his first batter faced and was ejected from the game alongside manager Joe Torre since there were warnings already in place.
This caused the benches to be cleared once again when the batter who was hit, Graig Nettles, charged the mound. 3 Padres, including Nettles, were ejected after this incident. Goose Gossage and Tim Flannery were both tossed as well. Crew chief John McSherry ended up clearing both benches to prevent further issues. All players were ordered into the clubhouse and could not sit in the dugout for the remainder of the game.
That made 17 ejections for the entire game which is wild to think about. The game mercifully ended and the Braves came out on top 5-3 with some bumps and bruises. Most importantly, the game ended without any other incidents. That didn't stop Joe Torre from making comments post-game about Padres manager, Dick Williams. Torre called Williams an "idiot with a capital I" and that "he should be suspended for the rest of the season."
Williams blamed the Braves for starting the entire mess but if we're being honest, both sides share a bit of blame at the end of the day. It almost feels like if the Padres had just hit Perez the first time, this could have been avoided but throwing at him 3 times before hitting him surely didn't help anything.
The Padres went on to the World Series in 1984 but lost to Detroit in five games. While the 1980 Braves teams may not have been the best, they surely gave fans plenty of memories and this is one of them. Baseball doesn't have many brawls like this anymore.