A couple of Sundays ago, I was watching the season's first Sunday night baseball game. The Chicago White Sox were visiting the Texas Rangers. A few innings in, I had an epiphany. Robin Ventura, the new manager of the White Sox, was facing a team who's president is Nolan Ryan. I chuckled and wondered if anyone else saw the irony here.
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, let me fill you in. Robin Ventura and Nolan Ryan were involved in one of the most famous (or infamous) bench clearing brawls of the modern era. It was August of 1993 and Ventura was a 26 year old All Star, the hot shot third baseman for Chicago's south-siders. Ryan was 46 years old, baseball's timeless, living legend and undoubtedly the most revered man in all of Texas. He was still pitching effectively and for Ryan, the voting for Cooperstown would be but a mere formality.
Ventura was at the plate when Ryan's pitch stuck him in the back. Ventura charged the mound. Can you imagine the fear that struck in the hearts of all those watching as these events unfolded!?! This young guy was not only going after the face of the franchise, but a man 20 years his senior. Some one get out there and protect poor Nolan!!
Um, Nolan Ryan didn't need anyone to protect him and he basically opened up a can of Texas whoop ass on Robin Ventura. Check it out.
Not only is this clip funny to watch, but it's also fun to see who else was playing in that game. If you look closely you'll see a young Ozzy Guillen and a pretty feisty Bo Jackson. Nolan's catcher/bodyguard is the just-retired Pudge Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro was in the melee too.
A clip of this fight is one that is oft showed a the Ballpark in Arlington, always to the delight of the crowd. However, the Rangers decided that it wouldn't be shown while the White Sox were in town. And curiously, Ventura and Ryan had never spoken since that August night 19 years ago. That all ended a few Sundays ago. Away from the cameras, Ryan met Ventura in the tunnel to say hello and wish him luck in his first game as a manager. There's no animosity or hard feelings. There never really was. After all, it's baseball.