Mets Accuse Walker of Fueling Brawl

Filed under Houston Astros, New York Mets
August 8, 1968
The cause of the Met-Astro donnybrook - Doug Rader (left) bounces up from his hard slide into third base, cracking Kevin Collins on the jaw in the process. It was reported that at least 25 of the 60 players, coaches and managers were involved in the combat that ensued.

Houston, Tex, Aug. 8 (AP) – “If Harry Walker had kept his mouth shut, nothing would have happened,” said Gil Hodges, manager of the New York Mets. Hodges was referring to an eighth inning brawl in Wednesday night’s game between the Mets and Houston Astros. The Astros rallied after the brawl for a 4-3 win, but apparently the fist fights ended in a draw.

Keeping Walker, the talkative Houston skipper quiet is near to impossible. The rhubarb erupted when the Astros’ Doug Rader steamed into third base with a hard slide following Lee Thomas’ pinch-hit single to score Denis Menke with the first Houston run. The crowd of 14,524 cheered the fireworks on the center field scoreboard signaling a Houston score, but the real fireworks were at third base. As Rader came up, his drawn-up right elbow came in contact with the right side of Mets’ third baseman Kevin Collins’ face. The Mets’ rookie was flattened.

With Collins lying on the field, his teammates poured out the dugout. Joe Pignatano, a hefty Mets’ coach, and Rader engaged in a shouting match. They tried to get at one another but were temporarily restrained. As words were exchanged, Collins was being administered to while a stretcher was on its way. By this time nearly every one was out at the scene. For a moment all was quiet. “But Harry came out and yelled, ‘He didn’t do it on purpose,” Hodges said. “We all knew that wasn’t so.” Walker insisted his intentions were those of peace negotiator, but the Mets failed to decode the message. Pignatano appeared to shove at Walker and the battle began. Individual battles broke out at other places.

“I was listening to Harry and Pig go at each other,” said Astros’ relief pitcher Tom Dukes. “They were having hot words face to face. Then Pig shoved Harry and that’s what started it. Rader had backed out of the pile of players, and four or five must have gone for him.” Don Cardwell, veteran Mets’ pitcher, was one of the first to reach Rader. He rocked the Astros’ infielder with a right-handed punch and wrestled Rader around the neck. “Five of them came at me,” Rader said. “I was on the bottom of that pile. I don’t know how it happened.”

“I came up when I hit the bag and just happened to hit him (Collins). But they’ve been spiking our guys throughout the series. It was a hard slide, just like they been doing to us.” On the night before the fight, Menke suffered gashes on his arm from spikes while making a tag at second. And catcher John Bateman had a spike driven through his shin guard. Numerous punches were thrown by both sides. Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones and Cardwell landed some good ones for the New Yorkers. Menke, Denny LeMaster and Steve Shea, the winning pitcher, did well for the Houston club. The feeling between the two expansion twins has been building up since Houston second baseman Joe Morgan’s knee by a Ed Kranepool slide in the fourth game of the season. Morgan underwent knee surgery and is still out of action.

When order was restored, Norm Miller lined out to end the inning. But the Astros roared back with three runs in the final frame. Cal Koonce replaced Mets’ starter Tom Seaver after a pair of singles by Rusty Staub and Jimmy Wynn. Menke followed with a Texas Leaguer over first to score Staub. That man Rader followed with a ground out which scored Wynn to tie the game. After Bateman grounded to second, Houston was down to its final out, and Dick Simpson found the hole between third and short to score Menke with the winning run.

The rally culminated a series sweep by the Astros which tied the season series at seven games apiece between the two clubs. They have four more games to play, August 16-18, in Shea Stadium. The teams left each other, looking forward to their final meetings with a feeling of mutual distrust.

8/7/1968, NYM68-HOU68, Astrodome

                       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     R  H  E   LOB DP
1968 New York          1  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  0     3 10  0     5  2
1968 Houston           0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  3     4  9  0     5  2

New York             AB  R  H BI  D  T HR BB  K SB CS IW HP SH SF   AVG   PO  A  E PB
Agee              cf  4  2  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .245    0  0  0  0
Stahl             rf  4  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .240    1  0  0  0
Jones             lf  3  1  2  3  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  .316    2  0  0  0
Kranepool         1b  4  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .198   10  2  0  0
Martin            c   4  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .270    8  0  0  0
Collins           3b  3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .218    0  0  0  0
 Charles          3b  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .303    0  0  0  0
Linz              2b  4  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .252    2  7  0  0
Weis              ss  4  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .192    1  4  0  0
Seaver            p   3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .148    2  0  0  0
 Koonce           p   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .167    0  0  0  0
                     34  3 10  3  0  0  1  0  7  0  0  0  0  0  1         26 13  0  0

Houston              AB  R  H BI  D  T HR BB  K SB CS IW HP SH SF   AVG   PO  A  E PB
Miller            rf  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .245    3  0  0  0
Torres            ss  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .240    1  3  0  0
Staub             1b  3  1  2  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .306    8  0  0  0
Wynn              lf  4  1  1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .235    2  0  0  0
Menke             2b  4  2  2  1  1  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .263    3  5  0  0
Rader             3b  4  0  1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .274    0  0  0  0
Bateman           c   4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .222    7  0  0  0
Simpson           cf  4  0  2  1  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .194    3  0  0  0
Dierker           p   2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .077    0  1  0  0
 Thomas           ph  1  0  1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .258    0  0  0  0
 Shea             p   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .000    0  0  0  0
                     34  4  9  4  1  0  0  1  8  0  0  0  0  0  0         27  9  0  0

New York                         INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   BF HR IW HP WP DP   ERA
Seaver                           8.1  7  3  3  1  8 135  88   31  0  0  0  0  2  2.36
Koonce           BS 4, L 6-3     0.1  2  1  1  0  0  10   6    4  0  0  0  0  0  2.54
                                 8.2  9  4  4  1  8 145  94   35  0  0  0  0  2

Houston                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   BF HR IW HP WP DP   ERA
Dierker                          8.0  8  3  3  0  6 112  83   31  1  0  0  2  1  3.36
Shea             W 1-2           1.0  2  0  0  0  1  17  11    4  0  0  0  0  1  2.70
                                 9.0 10  3  3  0  7 129  94   35  1  0  0  2  2

NYM: Charles inserted at 3b in the 8th
HOU: Thomas batted for Dierker in the 8th

GWRBI: Simpson
Temperature: 70, Wind: none.

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