20th anniversary: Piniella-Dibble fight

Twenty years ago today occurred one of the more memorable baseball fights of recent times. It wasn’t the most violent or long-lasting fight, so purely as a fight, it wasn’t that memorable.

But it wasn’t just another baseball fight. It was a fight between two people wearing the same uniform. In the clubhouse. In front of reports. Oh, and one of them was the team’s manager.

It was Cincinnati Reds manager Lou Piniella versus Nasty Boys reliever Rob Dibble. If you’re going to have a manager-player fight, it makes sense it would be these two. Piniella was always known for his fiery disposition when he played, and he was still emotional when he joined the ranks of field manager. Dibble had a reputation as one of the game’s great hotheads, complete with multiple suspensions for throwing at hitters.

It sounds like they were destined to fight at some point, doesn’t it?

Sure enough, on Sept. 17, 1992, it finally happened. The Reds won the game, 3-2, over the Braves. Afterwards, reporters asked why Piniella hadn’t used Dibble. After all, the Reds used four relievers to keep their narrow lead and Dibble was rested, so why not call on him? In fact, the Braves had the tying run on third and the winning run on second with one out in the ninth, and still Dibble wasn’t called on.

The Reds got away with the win, but Piniella still got the question. It wasn’t a big deal, just a fairly routine question. Piniella responded by saying Dibble had a bad shoulder. So far, so normal.

Then reporters asked Dibble about it. Dibble suggested that his manger misled reporters. Okay, now this isn’t quite normal. The fuse had been lit.

And when Piniella found out what Dibble said, he exploded. He screamed that Dibble was a liar, and they went at it. Rob Dibble was 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and young enough to be Piniella’s son. That didn’t matter. Sweet Lou saw red, and they began a clubhouse wrestling match.

The fight itself wasn’t very long-lasting. It was little more than a shoving match. But it was a manager and a star player shoving each other in the clubhouse with cameras clicking.

Both men had to see team owner Marge Scott and the GM the next day. Both apologized and put their disagreement behind them. Piniella even called on Dibble to pitch the day after their fight and again the next day.

That said, it probably isn’t a coincidence that 1992 was Piniella’s last year managing the Reds. He won a world title with them in 1990 and led them to 90 wins in 1992, but the team let him go in the offseason anyway.

Dibble was brought back in 1993 but was hampered by arm problems and had a terrible season. The Reds granted him free agency after that year. The fight didn’t hasten his departure, but for both Dibble and Piniella, their fight marked the end of their days as effective members of the Cincinnati Reds organization. And it happened 20 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things.


1,000 days since Atlanta trades Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera and two others, plus cash.

3,000 days since the Yankees top the Red Sox, 5-4 in 13 innings. The game is most famous for a great play by Derek Jeter in the 12th inning where he dove into the stands for a pop-up and smashed his face. It was 3-3 after 12 innings. Then Manny Ramirez homered in the top of the 13th for Boston, but the Yankees plated a pair in the bottom half of the frame. New York’s Gary Sheffield played third base for the first time in 11 years in the contest.

3,000 days since Sammy Sosa’s 10th and last career walk-off home run.

4,000 days since Barry Bonds makes history, hitting his 71st home run of the season, passing Mark McGwire’s single-season record.

4,000 days since Devon White appears in his last game.

4,000 days since the Blue Jays host their only doubleheader since 1989.

7,000 days since Raul Mondesi makes his big league debut.

15,000 days since Ernie Banks hits his 512th and final career home run.

30,000 days since Hall of Famer Goose Goslin has probably his worst day ever at the plate, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He had just one other three-K game, but he had a hit in that one.


1849 Ezra Sutton, star baseball player in his day, is born.

1879 Rube Foster, Hall of Fame Negro Leaguer, is born.

1897 Cy Young throws a no-hitter.

1897 Earl Webb, who holds the single-season record with 67 doubles, is born.

1900 In a Reds-Phillies game, members of Cincinnati discover that the Phillies are using an electrical messaging system to steal signs. A man positions himself in the outfield with a telescopic lens to get the signals, then sends it by an electronic signal to the third-base coach, who tells the batter what’s coming. Philadelphia has used it all year, but now a team finally finds out about it.

1906 Eddie Collins, all-time great player, makes his major league debut.

1909 Herman Long, great fielding infielder, dies.

1910 In a weird experiment, a contest in the Southern Association takes 32 minutes. The entire game is on the run. Batters swing at any good pitch and run until they’re tagged out. The final score is 2-1.

1910 Ed Summers, Detroit, a terrible-hitting pitcher, hits two homers toady against the A’s. Those are the only home runs in his career over 374 plate appearances.

1912 Casey Stengel makes his big league debut. He has a great game, getting four hits, a walk, and three stolen bases.

1913 Ty Cobb hits his only career inside-the-park grand slam.

1916 Walter Johnson loses 1-0 to George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns. This will be Sisler’s last win on the mound before switching to his Hall of Fame career as a third baseman.

1917 Honus Wagner appears in his last game.

1920 Bobby Veach and George Burns both hit for the cycle. It’s in separate games, but it’s the first time in history two players have done it in one day. Veach gets six hits in an 18-inning game, the most by any AL player since 1902.

1920 The Cardinals bang out 12 straight hits over two innings. (It’s over two innings because two batters are thrown out on the bases trying to stretch their hits for an extra base).

1922 Babe Ruth finally gets his revenge. The last 10 times he’s faced pitched Hub Pruett, Ruth has struck out. Today, he finally homers. However, Pruett and the Browns win, 3-1 over the Yankees.

1922 George Sisler enjoys his 41st straight game with a hit. He’s 79-for-174 with 14 doubles and seven triples (but no home runs).

1923 George “Highpockets” Kelly homers three times in one game for the second time in his career. Today they come in three straight innings (the third through fifth), a first in major league history. On the day, he’s 5-for-5 with a double in a 13-6 Giants win over the Cubs.

1926 Frankie Frisch hits the first of two career walk-off home runs. It’s his only career extra-inning homer off Eppa Rixey for a 5-4 win in 10 innings.

1926 Tommy Thevenow, who will hit just two homers in 4,483 plate appearances, gets his first one today.

1928 Ray Boggs makes his impression in his big league debut, and it’s an impression on the ribs of opposing Chicago Cubs hitters. He hits three Cubs in one inning, and he also walks two and throws a wild pitch. The Cubs win, 15-5 over the Braves.

1930 Earl Averill hits three home runs in one game. He misses a fourth on a possible bad call. He ends the day with a career-best eight RBIs. It’s in a doubleheader, and he has 11 RBIs on the day.

1930 Flint Rhem of the Cardinals disappeared two days ago. He comes back today, claiming he was kidnapped and forced to drink by gamblers.

1931 Bill Dickey hits the first of his eight career grand slams.

1932 Eddie Rommel plays in his last game.

1935 Jesse Haines wins his 200th decision. His record is 200-150 at the moment, and he’ll be 10-8 after this.

1935 Outfielder Len Koenecke, who was cut by the Dodgers the day before, is killed on a chartered flight over Canada. He fought with the pilot over the controls and is killed to save the plane. (Wait, what?!?)

1935 200-game-winner Earl Whitehill has the longest start of his career: 14 innings. He loses 3-1 to the White Sox in a complete game.

1937 Orlando Cepeda, Hall of Fame slugger, is born.

1938 Cubs pitcher Bill Lee allows 13 hits but gets the complete-game shutout anyway. It’s his third straight shutout.

1941 Stan Musial makes his big league debut.

1942 The A’s get swept in a doubleheader against the Browns. It pushes Connie Mack’s career record under .500 (3,195-3,196), and it will never be over .500 again.

1946 Hank Greenberg hits his 300th home run. He’s just the eighth man to do it, joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Rogers Hornsby, and Chuck Klein.

1947 Veteran pitcher Claude Passeau appears in his last game.

1947 Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi appears in his final big league contest.

1948 Indians star Bob Feller fans 11. It’s the 51st time he’s had double-digit whiffs in one game, but he’ll never do it again in his remaining 187 starts.

1953 The Reds fire manager Rogers Hornsby.

1953 Bobo Newsom, 200-game winner who pitched in four decades, appears in his last game.

1953 The Cubs finally integrate with Hall of Famer Ernie Banks as their shortstop.

1954 Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon has his 14th straight Quality Start. He’s 13-1 with 10 complete games in that time and a line of 121.2 IP, 95 H, 27 R, 21 ER, 34 BB, 52 K, and a 1.55 ERA.

1955 Lou Boudreau manages his 2,000th career game. His record is 1,019-966.

1955 The Orioles becomes the fourth AL team of the season to release Ted Gray. Cleveland, Detroit, and the Yankees already did it.

1955 Brooks Robinson makes his big league debut.

1957 Ted Williams hits a pinch-hit home run, beginning a streak of 16 straight plate appearances without making an out.

1958 Mickey Mantle hits a Jim Bunning pitch over the roof of Tiger Stadium and onto Trumball Avenue, about 500 feet away.

1960 Baltimore’s Clint Courtney becomes the first catcher with two career unassisted double plays.

1960 John Franco, long-time reliever, is born.

1960 Dick McAuliffe makes his big league debut.

1962 Ken McMullen makes his big league debut.

1962 Warren Spahn wins his 324th game to become the all-time wins leader for a southpaw.

1964 Mickey Mantle gets his 2,000th career hit.

1964 In the great Phillies Phlop, Gene Mauch starts Jim Bunning on just two days’ rest despite the fact that Bunning threw 10 innings his last time out. The Astros top the Phillies, 6-5.

1966 Andy Etchebarren of Baltimore hits into the rare walk-off triple play. It’s against White Sox pitcher Tommy John.

1966 Bill Mazeroski has two stolen base attempts for the only time in his career. He has one steal and one caught stealing.

1966 For the third time in his career, Willie McCovey hits three home runs in one game.

1967 Reggie Jackson smacks his first career home run.

1967 Roberto Clemente hits his second walk-off home run, and his first in 11 years.

1968 Gaylord Perry throws a no-hitter for a 1-0 Giants win over Bob Gibson and the Cardinals. Perry walks two and fans nine.

1971 Each batter in the White Sox order has one RBI in their 9-4 win over the Angels.

1972 Walter Alston manages his 3,000th game. He’s the eighth manger to do it, joining Connie Mack, John McGraw, Bucky Harris, Bill McKechnie, Leo Durocher, Casey Stengel, and Joe McCarthy.

1972 Enos Cabell makes his big league debut.

1973 Willie Stargell has a home run, triple, and a pair of doubles but never does get a single to finish off the cycle.

1974 Pirates pitcher Jerry Reuss has his longest outing, 13 innings, but gets the loss in a 2-1 Cardinals win.

1976 Milwaukee has Hank Aaron Day, but the Yankees top the Brewers, 5-3 in 11 innings.

1976 The Pirates win, putting manager Danny Murtaugh’s career record 167 games over .500, his peak. He’ll finish out the season and then die of a heart ailment in the offseason.

1976 Don Sutton has his best start, according to WPA. He throws 11 shutout innings but gets the no-decision in a contest his Dodgers end up losing, 1-0. Sutton’s WPA: 0.928.

1977 Len Barker becomes the last Rangers reliever to throw at least nine innings in one outing out of the bullpen. He throws 9.2 frames of shutout ball. The Rangers top the Twins, 5-4 in 17 innings, on a walk-off error.

1978 Pirates reliever Will McEnaney has his twin brother Mike stay in the bullpen for him so he can remain in the clubhouse and watch a football game.

1979 Starting pitcher Charlie Leibrandt makes his big league debut.

1980 Rod Carew legs out his 100th triple.

1980 When Oakland’s Rick Langford allows a two-run homer to Rusty Staub with two out in the ninth, A’s manager Billy Martin pulls him for a reliever. This ends a streak of 22 complete games for Langford.

1980 Dan Haren is born.

1980 Don Sutton enjoys his 15th straight Quality Start, tying his personal best longest such streak. He’s 7-2 in 112 IP with 80 H, 24 R, 22 ER, 20 BB, and 65 K for a 1.77 ERA in that stretch.

1980 Willie Randolph has his best game according to WPA: 0.928 WPA. He’s 3-for-6 with a double, four RBIs, a strikeout, and a sacrifice hit. The Yankees top the Blue Jays, 8-7.

1983 Ted Simmons gets his 2,000th career hit.

1983 Jack Morris has his 19th consecutive Quality Start, easily his longest streak ever. His numbers in this span: 12-6 W-L, 163.2 IP, 122 H, 44 R, 41 ER, 35 BB, and 138 K for a 2.25 ERA.

1983 It’s Johnny Bench Night in Cincinnati, and the old catcher is the star of the show. Working behind the backstop for only the fifth time all season (and the last time in his career), Bench blasts a two-run homer versus Houston.

1983 Longtime third baseman Don Money plays in his last game.

1984 Reggie Jackson hits his 500th career home run.

1984 Harold Baines hits three home runs in one game for the second time in his career.

1985 Rollie Fingers appears in his last game.

1986 Bo Jackson has an embarrassing moment at the plate when he drops his bat and starts running to first when umpire Jim Evans calls a balk.

1989 First baseman Leon Durham plays in his last game.

1989 Shane Rawley pitches in his last game.

1992 Jose Valentin makes his big league debut.

1993 The Brewers purchase Cory Lidle from Pocatello in the Pioneer League.

1993 The Mets trade Frank Tanana to the Yankees.

1993 The Blue Jays’ cumulative franchise record hits .500 (1,340-1,340) for the second time this year. They spent most of the season above .500.

1995 Craig Counsell makes his big league debut.

1996 Hideo Nomo does the seemingly impossible, throwing a no-hitter in Coors Field. The Dodgers win, 9-0.

1996 Longtime Pirates manager Jim Leyland announces that he’ll step down from managing the team next year.

1996 Craig Biggio suffers through his worst game according to WPA: -0.469. He’s 1-for-5 with a GIDP.

1997 Larry Walker hits his 200th home run.

1997 Mets starting pitcher Bobby J. Jones leaves the game after allowing eight runs and getting none out. That’s tied for the most runs allowed with no outs by a starting pitcher in the live-ball era.

1998 Manny Ramirez hits his sixth home run in a three-game span. The last American Leaguer to do that was Gus Zernial in 1951.

1999 Cal Ripken phones the team to tell them he’s stuck in traffic but will soon be at the airport for the team flight. Team GM Frank Wren decides to take off their chartered flight without him anyway. It’s one of the reasons why Wren will be fired after the year.

2000 Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins makes his big league debut.

2001 The Red Sox suspends Carl Everett for four games after a shouting match with manager Joe Kerrigan and for being late for a workout.

2004 Barry Bonds blasts his 700th home run. Padres pitcher Jake Peavy allows it.

2006 St. Louis retires No. 42 for Bruce Sutter.

2007 Frank Thomas hits three home runs in one game. It’s the second time he’s ever done it.

2007 The ageless Julio Franco appears in his final game.

2010 Reports emerge that Joe Torre will step down as Dodgers manager at the end of the year and that Don Mattingly will replace him.

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Paul G.
10 years ago

I do enjoy these installments.  Fascinating stuff in easy to digest bites.  Though I’m pretty sure Sisler was a first baseman.

Chris J.
10 years ago

Paul – you’re right.  I goofed.

Chris Waters
10 years ago

Although Dibble was a hothead on the mound, aside from some occasional show of low IQ on TV and radio, he seems to be a pretty mild-mannered guy. On the other hand, Pinella was and is a loose cannon no matter where he goes and what he does. His profanity-laced tirades were something when he was a player, and he didn’t change much when he was with the Reds.