Most Famous Brawls in Sports History

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

11. Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox
> Year: 2006

The Windy City rivalry between the North Side Cubs and South Side Sox came to a head in 2006 after a collision at the plate. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski developed a reputation for antagonizing opponents, and he did just that with the White Sox. In a play at the plate, he ran over Cubs catcher Michael Barrett and emphatically slapped home plate and got in Barrett’s face. Barrett responded by winding up and slugging Pierzynski, and players came pouring out of the dugouts, starting a melee around home plate. For his role in the fight, Barrett earned a 10-game suspension. For the White Sox, outfielder Brian Anderson was banned for five games, and third base coach Joey Cora was suspended for two. All other combatants were fined.

Source: Robert Laberge / Allsport / Getty Images

12. Detroit Red Wings vs. Colorado Avalanche
> Year: 1997

Going into their final meeting of the 1997 regular season, the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche were ready to fight. The two teams played a vicious postseason series the year before, capped off by an illegal check into the boards from Colorado’s Claude Lemieux that severely injured Detroit’s Kris Draper. Detroit was ready for vengeance. In the first period of their 1997 matchup, several simultaneous fights broke out, with Darren McCarty pummeling Lemieux. All in all, there were 10 fights and over two hours of combined penalty minutes. The Red Wings won 6-5 with McCarty notching the winning goal in overtime.

Source: Baseball Digest / Wikimedia Commons

13. San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
> Year: 1965

Juan Marichal is revered as a Hall of Fame pitcher, but an ugly incident in a 1965 brawl has marred his legacy and helped entrench the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants as fierce rivals. The game between the teams was already a heated affair, with Marichal and opposing pitcher Sandy Koufax throwing inside at batters. After Koufax threw near Marichal’s head, Dodger catcher John Roseboro and Marichal began arguing. Marichal infamously raised his bat and hit Roseboro with it — the only time an MLB player has struck an opponent with his bat intentionally. Willie Mays charged in and settled the players before things got even more out of hand. Roseboro needed 14 stitches to close the gash in his head. Marichal was suspended for eight days.

Source: Keith Allison / Flickr

14. New York Knicks vs. Denver Nuggets
> Year: 2006

Down 119-100 with just over a minute remaining in their 2006 game with the Nuggets, the Knicks seemed to take exception to the fact that many of Denver’s starters were still in the game, potentially running up the score. As Nugget J.R. Smith tried to run for a breakaway dunk, he was hammered by New York’s Mardy Collins. Players pushed and shoved, and Smith wrestled New York’s Nate Robinson and they exchanged punches. After the fight seemed to die down, Denver’s Carmelo Anthony punched Collins in the face. The inciting foul seemed to be premeditated, as New York’s Robinson said after the game, “we’re not going to let guys keep dunking when they’re up 20.” Anthony received the largest suspension, at 15 games. Smith and Robinson missed 10 games; Collins was suspended for six; and New York’s Jared Jeffries earned a four-game ban.

Source: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

15. Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
> Year: 2010

The 2010 fight between the Titans and the Texans was really a matchup between two players — Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Houston receiver Andre Johnson. Finnegan earned a reputation as a player who often crossed the line from physical to dirty, pestering and hitting opposing wide receivers. After playing against him all day, Andre Johnson had had enough, ripping Finnegan’s helmet off, slamming him to the ground, and punching him around the head. After the two were separated, the teams came together in the middle of the field for a scrum before being separated. Both players were ejected.