Chris Duncan

Yadier Molina Peoria Chiefs

There Was An Ugly Bench-Clearing Brawl In The Midwest League 13 Years Ago Today

On May 10, 2002 the Peoria Chiefs visited John O’Donnell Stadium to play the River Bandits. The River Bandits were trailing 6-3 going into the bottom 8th inning, and they rallied for 4 runs to win the game 7-6. The outcome however was overshadowed by an ugly bench-clearing brawl in the 7th inning. This is still the ugliest brawl I’ve ever seen. Players of note that were involved in this were Yadier Molina, Chris Duncan, Joe Mauer, and Jason Kubel.┬áThese videos were not shot by me. I downloaded them several years ago from a web site and put them on Youtube in 2007 (there is no audio). Part 2 shows the worst of it:

According to this old article, Chris Duncan slid into Joe Mauer on a play at the plate in the 3rd inning, and the Bandits felt he slid in too hard. Duncan’s next time at the plate, the Bandits threw several inside pitches at him, but did not hit him and he drew a walk. In the 7th inning, Travis Bowyer hit him in the back with a pitch. Bowyer was immediately ejected, and players started to come onto the field. Here is what the Quad City Times article said about it:

Players fought for almost 10 minutes before umpires, coaches and Bandits front-office staff could separate everybody.

A number of players suffered hand and arm injuries. Several also had cuts on their faces.
A fan also was struck in the face by a ball that was thrown off the field and bounced off a dugout.

Quad-City infielder Brett Tamburrino fell during the melee and quickly found himself under a pile of Peoria players.

A tape of the incident shot by fan Marvin Fussell of Bettendorf appears to show Peoria starting pitcher Mike Wodnickin kicking Tamburrino in the face.

Wodnickin, whose face shows up several times on the tape, returned to the mound in the seventh inning before being removed from the game.

Chiefs catcher Yadier Molina, who was ejected, is also seen beating on players.

I was sitting right on the first base side only a few rows behind the dugout. Some of this fight happened within like 15 feet of me. Some kid who had been playing catch with a ball behind the stands on the 3rd base side is the person who threw the ball towards the Peoria dugout. I don’t know who he was, but he was never caught. His throw missed, and instead it bounced on the dugout and hit that fan. This just added to the chaos.

There was a lot of fallout from this incident. River Bandits owner Kevin Krause worried it would damage the image of his team. Brett Tamburrino suffered a concussion and Digno Torres was also injured. The fan that was hit in the head was in the hospital for at least a few days. In the end, 12 players ended up getting fines and suspensions:

Sandoval received an eight-game suspension and was removed from a list of candidates for consideration for the Midwest League All-Star Game for throwing a helmet that broke the nose of Peoria first baseman Chris Duncan during a fight that lasted 10 minutes. Sandoval also was fined $500.

Molina and Wodnicki each were suspended for four games and fined $300.

Quad-City pitcher Travis Bowyer, who threw a pitch that hit Duncan to ignite the altercation, was given a three-game suspension, as were pitcher J.C. Contreras and infielder Jesus Merchan. Each was fined $200.

Peoria’s Jordan Robison, Gabe Johnson and Duncan all were suspended three games and fined $200.

Quad-City manager Jeff Carter and pitching coach Gary Lucas and Chiefs manager Danny Sheaffer were suspended for two games and fined.