Back when this blogger was a kid, players from Latin America were described as being “hot-blooded” because of their tendency to typically be in the middle of baseball brawls. Despite the obvious insensitive racial connotation, this belief was overblown. The description was probably derived from the high level intensity Latin players show while on the field.
The most infamous Latin player related brawl occurred in on August 22, 1965 when San Francisco Giants Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal hit Dodgers catcher John Roseboro in the head with his bat while at the plate in the third inning. Earlier, Marichal knocked down Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills and outfielder Ron Fairly. Back then it was common for pitchers to throw at batters without fear of ejection.
Facing the Giants was Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax not one known to retaliate. So Roseboro took matters into his own hands by nearly hitting Marichal in the nose when he returned a pitch. When another return pitch nearly hit Marichal in the ear, he turned and belted Roseboro with the bat, opening a 2 inch gash requiring 14 stitches and instigating an ugly 14 minute brawl which some describe as the worst in baseball history.
A few other famous brawls have included Latin players – the Pedro Martinez/Yankees melee in 2003, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Veritek in 2004, Armando Benitez and Tino Martinez in 1998.
Which brings us to the Easter Day scuffle involving Carlos Gomez and the Pirates. Gomez is well-known as a hard nose player who plays with such a high level of energy, he sometimes does dumb things. As one reader of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described him as a player with “a million dollar player with a ten-dollar brain”.
Gomez had a breakout season last year making the All-Star team and winning the Golden Glove which he richly deserved.
Yet while Gomez has finally matured as a player, he still needs to mature as a person.