Last week, Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon got into a physical altercation with general manager Ed Wade after Chacon refused to go to manager Cecil Cooper’s office, and Wade angrily approached Chacon over the refusal.
There have been altercations between players and front office staff before. Legend has it that Babe Ruth once dangled Yankees manager Miller Huggins from a moving train window. Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin got into a shoving match in the dugout during a Yankees game against the Red Sox at Fenway. And, more recently, Latrell Sprewell, then with the Golden State Warriors, choked coach P.J. Carlesimo during a practice session.
But, those altercations were between those directly coaching or managing a player, not an executive -- an other layer up the chain.
Since the Wade/Chacon altercation, I have been researching far and wide, as well as asking anyone that would listen, the question: “Has there ever been a case of a player and a GM getting into a physical altercation?”
The answer (at least at this stage) appears to be, no. As one well-known and respected member of the media who has this type of “did you know” research in his wheel said to me, “I’ve asked countless people the question, and to date, no one could think of an instance.”
Now, this isn’t to say executives haven’t been known to tussle with someone. Maybe the most well-known of the “executive that loved to fight” might be Leland (Larry) Stanford MacPhail.
His final rowdy moment as an MLB executive surrounds one of the most bizarre retirement moments in history. MacPhail, crying and toting an empty beer bottle declared, "That's it, goddamit, that's my retirement," the moment the Yankees won the World Series in October of 1947. Although Dan Topping and Del Webb, MacPhail’s partners in the Yankees, discounted the retirement announcement at the time.
As noted in Time Magazine, the next day made it official in everyone’s eyes:
Twenty-four hours later, there was no doubt that MacPhail was out, though not, as he had first declared, "just because I wanna be." The question was settled at the Yankees' beery victory celebration at the Biltmore Hotel. MacPhail blustered in late, demanded a private room for his own party, began to celebrate with a tirade against teetotaling Dodger President Branch Rickey, whom Larry does not like. When one of MacPhail's friends defended Rickey, MacPhail punched him in the eye. His outbursts against his own partners made Topping so angry that guests had to break in to head off a brawl.
Fireworks & Hoopla. Fed up, Topping and Webb called a meeting with their lawyers then & there. It lasted all night and most of the next day. They then announced that they had bought MacPhail's one-third interest, and were now accepting his resignation as Yankee president, treasurer, director and general manager.
So, MacPhail was known to get physical, but to date... I can find no story of MacPhail getting into it with a player. To that end, the Shawn Chacon/Ed Wade dust-up may go down in history as the first time a player and executive got physical with each other.
We haven't found any other player/executive altercation yet, but maybe you have? Post in the comments if you know of one. One thing seems certain... a player and GM will probably get into it again in the future.