It was one of the strangest brawls in baseball history. The Giants were playing the Diamondbacks at Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field), April 16, 1999. It was the Diamondbacks’ second season in existence, and they were clobbering the Giants 8-3 in the top of the sixth when Giants third baseman Charlie Hayes charged the mound to get a piece of Diamondbacks pitcher Todd Stottlemyre.
Only Hayes wasn’t charging from the batter’s box after getting beaned. He was charging from second base.
Here’s what happened. Hayes came to the plate with a man on first. His career record against Stottlemyre was abysmal, 0-for-13, and it wasn’t about to get better. Hayes hit into a fielder’s choice force out at second. As he reached first base, he started cursing, later saying he was cursing at himself. But Stottlemyre assumed the blue language was meant for him.
On the next at bat, as Hayes advanced to second on a single by Giants catcher Brent Mayne, Stottlemyre tossed an F-bomb his way. “I thought he was yelling at me from first base,” Stottlemyre explained, “so when he got to second base I had something to say to him.”
A nasty exchange ensued. Then, as Hayes rounded second, he charged the mound and threw a punch at Stottlemyre. “I was trying to knock him out,” Hayes told reporters. “I didn’t want to wrestle. He talks like he’s Bob Gibson. I’m the only one he can get out.”
Hayes was referring to his struggles at the plate against Stottlemyre.
Stottlemyre managed to avoid the punch. “He missed me all night, at the plate and on the mound,” he later quipped.
Diamondbacks third baseman and former Giant Matt Williams rushed to the mound and tackled Hayes as Giants third base coach Sonny Jackson got a hold of Stottlemyre. Both dugouts and bullpens cleared. Curses and taunts flew back and forth. Hayes was still livid when Barry Bonds grabbed him and led him back to the dugout.
Both Hayes and Stottlemyre were ejected from the game.
In the melee, Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson lost his cap. He picked up a Giants hat by mistake and put it on, thinking it felt a little tight.
“I guess I was a Giant for a half-minute,” Johnson said.
The Diamondbacks went on to beat the Giants, 10-4. Not that that will happen tonight.