The LA Times’ Jerry Crowe recalls an August 2, 1953 brawl between the PCL’s Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels that lasted some 30 minutes, required 50 cops to break it up and was described by the day’s home plate umpire Cece Carlucci as “probably the biggest fight in baseball history.”
Two earlier games in the weeklong series had been marred by fights, including a benches-clearing brawl two nights earlier. The Stars, on their way to the PCL championship, had won the previous two one-run games ” Friday on a ninth-inning, two-out pinch single by Frank Kelleher and Saturday when Kelleher’s two-run pinch homer in the eighth inning provided the difference.
In the sixth inning of Sunday’s opener, Kelleher was hit by a pitch from Angels starter Joe Hatten. Kelleher, usually mild-mannered and never before ejected in a career that was in its 17th season, dropped his bat and stormed the mound.
“He’d never been in trouble, never disputed a call,” Carlucci says. “So I went over to pick up the ball and I see him running toward Hatten. And, I’ll tell you, he threw a haymaker. He knocked Hatten right off the god-darn mound.”
Both benches emptied, but order was quickly restored, Carlucci says. Kelleher was ejected, and Ted Beard was brought in to run for him.
Moments later, after stealing second base, Beard was attempting to steal third when he spiked third baseman Murray Franklin in the arms and chest with a hard slide. Franklin, who had joined the Angels that day after playing for the Stars earlier in his career, dropped his glove and leaped on Beard.
The melee was on.
Beard, 86, says from his home in Fishers, Ind., that he doesn’t remember much about what happened but does allow that “we had a little scramble.”
It was more than that, of course. Noting that Beard was “out by 15 feet,” Carlucci says the runner launched himself at Franklin with spikes flying. Their fight, he says, “probably was the most vicious of all the fighting that was going on.”