In wake of Maddon-Hurdle, recalling coaching confrontations in Pittsburgh sports history
Perhaps nothing would have happened had Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon been free to charge the Pittsburgh Pirates dugout during the teams’ Fourth of July blow-up.
But Maddon was visibly angry that Pirates pitcher Jordan Lyles was throwing high and inside to his batters, and Clint Hurdle did not back down, standing on the top step of the dugout.
Maddon was ejected, and no punches were thrown, but Maddon alluded to retribution during the teams’ series next weekend at Wrigley Field.
Joe Maddon – with an empty glass of red wine on his desk – said Pirates tendency to go up and in has gotten out of hand. Said he “can’t wait” to face Pirates in Chicago next week.
— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) July 4, 2019
The dust-up brought to mind other Pittsburgh coaches’ confrontations with their counterparts over the years.
Here are a few memorable ones:
Danny Murtaugh vs. the Giants, 1958
Murtaugh, a fiery Irishman who led the Pirates to two World Series championships, was in the middle of a bat-swinging incident with the San Francisco Giants at Forbes Field.
It started the year before when Giants pitcher Ruben Gomez hit Vernon Law on the left ear with a pitch, rupturing Law’s ear drum and ending his season, according to James S. Hirsch’s book, “Willie Mays The Life, The Legend.”
Reciprocal brushbacks followed in ’58. Finally, on May 25, in the first game of a doubleheader, Bill Mazeroski deflected a Gomez pitch with his left hand to prevent it from hitting his head.
As Maz cursed Gomez, Murtaugh raced from the dugout and did the same.
The next inning, Gomez came to the plate to face Law, a spiritual man who was deacon in his church at age 12. Law narrowly missed Gomez with a high fastball.
When Frank Dascoli warned Law, Murtaugh again charged onto the field. He barked at Gomez, who approached the Pirates manager while swinging his bat. Third-base coach Herman Franks got between them, but the Giants’ Orlando Cepeda also grabbed a bat while both benches emptied.
Mays tackled Cepeda before he could do damage, and order was restored. When Mays came to bat, many in the Sunday afternoon crowd of 35,797 gave him a rousing thank-you.
Wrote Pittsburgh Press reporter Les Biederman: “(Mays’) quick thinking … probably averted a full-scale riot.”
Tim Grgurich vs. John Cinicola, 1978
Author and historican Sam Sciullo Jr. recalled a basketball game between Pitt and Duquesne on Feb. 22, 1978, at Fitzgerald Field House, when the Pitt band played while Duquesne was trying to run its offense.
Cinicola, the Duquesne coach, complained.
“(Pitt coach Tim) Grgurich sort of waved him off,” Sciullo said. “Then Grgurich motioned as a bandleader would for the band to keep playing.”
Pitt won 72-65, but Sam Clancy’s 20 rebounds and 19 points got more credit than the band.
Grgurich was quoted in The Pittsburgh Press the next day, saying “The band’s part of the game. The same as the crowd. It’s a big advantage for us.”
Despite the Pitt band, Duquesne’s B.B. Flenory scored 22 points.
Chuck Noll vs. Jerry Glanville, 1987
Noll accused Glanville of sending his players onto the field with orders to injure some Steelers — or, at least, hit really hard. The two had this infamous midfield exchange after the Oilers defeated the Steelers, 24-16, on Dec. 20 at the Astrodome.
12/20/87 [email protected] – Oilers win 24-16
Notice the handshake as Chuck Noll scolds Jerry Glanville. Although it’s not heard here, Noll said to Glanville, “If you send players after my players, I’ll come after you and don’t you forget that. I’m serious!”
The rivalry has begun. pic.twitter.com/uIGVtNAzwn
— Steel City Star (@steelcitystar) August 26, 2018
Joe Paterno vs. Doug Graber, 1995
Graber, the Rutgers coach, was not happy when Penn State backup quarterback Mike McQueary threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Chris Campbell with 58 seconds left in a game the Nittany Lions were winning 52-34 on Sept. 23, 1995, at Giants Stadium.
Paterno washed his hands of all blame.
“All I wanted was for McQueary to throw one pass in the ballgame,” he said in a Daily Collegian story, authored at the time by Trib columnist Kevin Gorman. “(McQueary) was supposed to hit the tight end coming across the middle. (Campbell) popped open, so he took it to him.”
It was McQueary’s only pass and Campbell’s only reception in the game.
Later, Graber didn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m not going to answer any questions about the score and those kinds of things,” he said.
Lloyd McClendon vs. Tony La Russa, 2004
Both managers were ejected with two outs in the top of the ninth inning in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 4-2 victory against the Pirates on June 3, 2004, at PNC Park.
It started in the usual way: Pirates reliever Mike Gonzalez threw high and tight toward Tony Womack.
When La Russa yelled at Gonzalez, McClendon stormed out of the dugout and headed toward La Russa, who stepped onto the field.
Umpires Brian Gorman and Dale Scott tried to restrain McClendon while the managers exchanged words. The dugouts emptied, and both managers ended up with fines and two-game suspensions.
“I guess what you’re supposed to do now from this precedent here,” McClendon said, “is when the opposing manager berates your players, you should just sit there and not say a (expletive) thing.”
McClendon also received a few timely gifts from outfielder Craig Wilson, who presented his manager with books titled “The Anger Workbook” and “Getting the Best of Your Anger.” He also gave McClendon a Zen rock garden.
Tony Granato vs. Peter Laviolette, 2012
Granato, a Penguins assistant, and Laviolette, the Philadelphia Flyers coach, shouted at each other from their benches while players were fighting April 1, 2012, on the Consol Energy Center ice.
Laviolette, who was fined $10,000, broke a stick, angry Penguins fourth-line center Joe Vitale hit Danny Briere hard, sparking skirmishes. Laviolette thought Vitale was dispatched by coach Dan Bylsma to create havoc. Granato was fined $2,500.
Bylsma was uninterested in talking about it.
“Antics and theatrics on the bench by their coach are just that,” he said. “We don’t play the game.”
But Bylsma was criticized by NBC analyst Mike Milbury, who said in a Philadelphia radio interview he “thought Dan Bylsma should have took off his skirt and gone over there,” according to the radio station’s website.
Said Bylsma: “I wasn’t wearing a skirt. It was a blue suit.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .