25 Years Ago Today, Nolan Ryan Beat The Snot Out Of Robin Ventura

On August 4, 1993, Nolan Ryan toed the mound against the Chicago White Sox. The 46-year-old KO King was appearing in his 801st game in the final season of his legendary career. Despite Ryan at the twilight of his career and a less than stellar season with a 5-5 record and 4.88 ERA, the crowd at Arlington Stadium were excited to witness what would be Nolan’s seventh-to-last game he ever pitched. Nolan’s performance turned out to be far more entertaining and memorable than anyone ever expected, but not for his pitching prowess.

White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura knocked a single off of Ryan in the first inning. The feisty bulldog that is Nolan Ryan wasn’t about to let this young player show him up on his farewell tour. So Ryan went inside on the 26-year-old hitter, reminder: this was Nolan Ryan’s 27th season in his illustrious career. Ryan inadvertently hit Ventura and he charged the mound. BIG mistake. Ventura got railroaded by The Ryan Express.

Ryan gave a quick and powerful lesson to the youngster about putting your head down when charging the mound. This is the baseball version of when keeping it real goes wrong.

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Ryan was not ejected from the game and the brawl seemed to fuel him as he retired 12 of the next 13 batters. Ryan pitched seven innings, struck out five and led the Texas Rangers to the 5-2 win. Ryan would finish his career with 324 wins and an all-time best 5,714 KOs. Meanwhile, Ventura and White Sox manager Gene Lamont were ejected from the game.

Here’s what the first-ballot Hall of Famer said of the fight in his biography Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher:

When Ventura charged toward the mound, he slowed down just enough to run into a Ryan headlock. Nolan got in four quick right hands on the top of Ventura’s head. His fifth and final punch got Ventura square in the face. Both benches emptied, and the main combatants disappeared under the surge of humanity. Ventura eventually emerged unscathed, but Ryan remained trapped beneath the pile and was nearly unconscious when help came from an unexpected quarter.

“All I remember is that I couldn’t breathe,” says Ryan. “I thought I was going to black out and die, when all of a sudden I see two big arms tossing bodies off of me. It was [Chicago’s] Bo Jackson. He had come to my rescue, and I’m awful glad he did, because I was about to pass out. I called him that night and thanked him.”

Ventura, who was the only batter Ryan hit in 13 games that season, tried to downplay getting the snot beat out of him. “I’m all right, he gave me a couple of noogies, but that was about it,” Ventura said. Sorry Robin, this is still one of the greatest baseball beatdowns of all-time.

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