The 2003 Chicago Cubs will unfortunately forever be remembered for someone not even on the team’s roster. Steve Bartman became public enemy No. 1 (even though he isn’t to blame for the team’s choke job against the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series) and the Curse of the Billy Goat lived on.
Sammy Sosa was the heart and soul of that team, but the Cubs’ pitching staff alone had some characters. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior led the way as the aces. Carlos Zambrano, who was known for erupting on his own players and destroying coolers, also threw pitches for the Windy City MLB team.
Look to the Cubs’ bullpen and you’ll find someone that resembled a modern-day Nolan Ryan: Kyle Farnsworth. In fact, this was a pitcher once dubbed the “greatest baseball fighter of all time” by SB Nation.
For those that don’t remember this flame-throwing, hot-headed relief pitcher, let’s go over some facts about Mr. Farnsworth: He played high school football and baseball growing up in Alpharetta, Georgia. He once broke up a fight between his two bulldogs — Strike and Rambo — and needed four stitches on his non-pitching hand. In 2005, he threw punches and suplexed Jeremy Affeldt in a brawl between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. HE HAS A BLACK BELT IN KARATE. He stood 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. He also threw 100-mph fastballs routinely, and didn’t mind running it up and in on batters.
On June 19, 2003, that last fact got the 27-year-old pitcher in trouble. However, the batter was really the one in trouble.
Kyle Farnsworth’s MMA Takedown In 2003 Cubs-Reds Brawl
The Cubs and Cincinnati Reds were partaking in a harmless NL Central mid-summer rivalry game in ’03 when things began to get chippy.
Farnsworth threw a heater high and tight when Reds pitcher Paul Wilson squared for a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning. The pitch popped out of the Cubs catcher’s mitt and the runner on first advanced anyway.
Wilson wasn’t fond of the pitch’s placement, had some choice words for the reliever and then probably instantly regretted everything. Farnsworth dropped Wilson like a sack of potatoes and beat his face in while on top of him. It was a move straight up out of a UFC fight and probably hurt the hell out of Wilson’s back.
Here’s what Wilson looked like after stupidly charging Farnsworth:
And here’s what Farnsworth looked like as he made his way to the dugout:
“It’s a fight, but when it’s over it’s done with,” Farnsworth told ESPN of the fight and brawling in baseball. “Hitters need to know that a pitcher will protect them if they get hit. We’re together 180 days out of the year. So we’re basically a family. You have to protect your family.”
“Don’t f*** with Farnsworth” should’ve been turned into t-shirts instantly. The rest of the brawl is sort of bland after that, except for when Dusty freakin’ Baker shoves a coach. I just wonder what would’ve happened if Slammin’ Sammy Sosa threw some haymakers.
Farnsworth pitched for 16 years in Major League Baseball as a set-up man and reliever with nine different teams (Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and Houston Astros). He owned a 4.26 career ERA and 963 strikeouts but something tells me teams liked to keep him around as an enforcer.
The best part about Farnsworth? The baseball player played semi-pro football for the Orlando Phantoms in the Florida Football Alliance. In 2015, he totaled a team-leading 11 sacks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he led the team in tackles. Just ask Paul Wilson.