You can call Trevor Bauer’s instantly GIF-able heave over the center-field wall at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday many things: Immature, unfortunate, embarrassing … and, well, kind of funny, too.
Just don’t call it unprecedented. Baseball history is littered with instances in which pitchers threw the ball at something other than the catcher’s glove. Here are a few that stand out.
June 20, 1986: Righetti and meatball
The Yankees had lost five straight games, and Dave Righetti, one night after giving up the winning run in the 10th, had blown an 8-4 lead with two outs in the ninth. So frustration was high when the umpire tossed Righetti a new ball after George Bell had hit a game-tying grand slam at old Exhibition Stadium.
Bell’s grand slam had gone out to left field. Righetti’s subsequent grand sling, which came as manager Lou Piniella walked toward the mound to remove him, went out to right.
This story had a happy ending for the Yankees, who scored two runs in the 10th to take a 10-8 lead that reliever Brian Fisher would preserve in the bottom of the inning.
So Piniella, a fiery sort himself, was able to see the bright side of the Righetti moment.
“Seeing Rags throw the ball over the wall reminded me of myself,” Piniella said. “When I struck out, I’d go out to right field and try to heave the ball out of the stadium if I could. I was proud to see him do it. It got the frustration out of him.”
April 28, 1991: Dibble trouble
Rob Dibble was known as the nastiest of the “Nasty Boys.” In 1991, he was suspended twice before the end of the first week of May.
This incident prompted the second of those two suspensions, before the appeal hearing for the first suspension (for throwing behind the Astros’ Eric Yelding and setting off a benches-clearing brawl) had even taken place.
Dibble was upset with himself after a poor performance against the Cubs. His Reds won the game, 4-3, but Dibble had allowed two runs on five hits in two innings. He chucked the ball into the stands after the final out and struck a first-grade teacher named Meg Porter in the elbow.
In the aftermath, Dibble, who was suspended for four games, wound up visiting with the woman to apologize.
“I have to mature,” Dibble later told reporters. “I have to come to grips with handling the pressure.”
Aug. 9, 1991: Wells pressure switch
When he saw Cito Gaston, David Wells blew a gasket. Wells had just given up a walk, uncorked a wild pitch and given up a Mike Greenwell single in the fifth inning. With the Blue Jays trailing the Red Sox, 3-0, Gaston decided he had seen enough, so he came out to get his starter and bring in reliever David Weathers.
Angered that he couldn’t make another pitch, Wells made another toss. Unlike the others on this list, his throw didn’t clear the wall, but it did go down the base line. And Wells followed that up by tossing his glove into the crowd.
“It carried on up into the clubhouse, in my office, and I never forget that David and I were actually yelling at each other and Manny Lee was standing in the middle trying to separate us,” Gaston told the Toronto Globe and Mail years later.
Thankfully, there was no lingering tension.
"That same winter,” Gaston added, “David came by my house, took my son fishing and came back and drank all my beer.”
June 12, 2002: Sweet relief for Kim
By the time he took the mound in this Interleague tilt, D-backs closer Byung-Hyun Kim was all too accustomed to seeing baseballs sail out of Yankee Stadium. The difference this time was that Kim intended for this one to clear the wall, as a celebration.
Kim’s implosion during Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series was still a fairly fresh wound for the South Korea-born pitcher, even though Arizona had triumphed in that classic Fall Classic. As a means of expunging the demons -- or, more likely, silencing some boisterous fans near the visiting bullpen -- Kim, who had waited for this appearance for the first three games of the four-game set, induced the final outs of this game on a Shane Spencer double play, got the ball from first baseman Mark Grace and heaved it over the left-center-field wall, onto the netting protecting the retired numbers. It was a throw of more than 300 feet.
“That was unconscious,” Kim said to the New York Post afterward. “It would have been a shame, or losing face, if it didn’t go [over the fence].”
Arizona manager Bob Brenly explained that the fans near the bullpen had been ridiculing Kim for four days.
“So he gave them a souvenir,” Brenly added.
Brenly would repeat the feat himself just a year later. In July 2003, he was ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes and then threw a strike of his own into the stands. He received a two-game suspension.
May 27, 2009: Oh no, Zambrano
No tirade on this list earned a stronger penalty than the six-game suspension Carlos Zamrano received -- and did not appeal -- after his tirade at Wrigley Field in 2009.
Zambrano had uncorked a wild pitch and unsuccessfully tried to cover the plate as the Pirates’ Nyjer Morgan scored from third. When home-plate umpire Mark Carlson ruled Morgan safe, Zambrano exploded into argument. He was ejected after appearing to nudge Carlson, then fired the ball into left field, slammed his glove against a dugout fence and used a bat to smash a Gatorade cooler.
"I apologize for that,” Zambrano said afterward. “Like I said, I should have more control of myself in that situation. I just wanted to get out of that inning and win the ballgame. I didn't say a bad word. I should have gone to the clubhouse and keep watching the game. I apologize for throwing the ball and the other things.”
Sept. 4, 2009: Rodney gets some bad press
The lasting memory from September 2009 is the Tigers losing a comfortable American League Central lead and then losing a Game 163 tiebreaker to the Twins. But Fernando Rodney’s unusual throw actually came after a win. He had entered with a three-run lead and walked the first two batters he faced before giving up a run-scoring single and a double, but he got out of the jam of his own creation to be credited with the save. He then, for reasons still unknown, fired the ball into the press box.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, then the president of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, detailed the incident in a letter to the Commissioner’s Office, which then issued a three-game suspension to Rodney (it was later reduced to two games).
“That surprised me," Rodney said of the suspension. "If you try to hit somebody, you are suspended. I did not try to hit somebody.”
May 17, 2011: Another Indians incident
Believe it or not, a Cleveland pitcher throwing the ball over the wall at Kauffman Stadium isn’t even unprecedented.
In 2011, then-closer Chris Perez, who had earned the nickname “Pure Rage” for his fiery presence on the mound, recorded the final out of a 7-3 victory over the Royals and then tossed the ball over the right-field wall while standing between the mound and second base.
"I was frustrated that I gave up the single to Melky Cabrera," Perez told reporters. "He's driven in four of the runs I've given up this year. MLB Network has been showing it all day, so I can't hide from it."
May 1, 2014: Another Kauffman fling
Maybe, as Bauer can attest, there’s just something in the air -- or something coming out of the fountains -- at Kauffman Stadium that causes pitchers to lose their cool.
On this day, Jeremy Guthrie caught a line drive for the third out of the sixth inning -- in a start in which he allowed four runs, including a three-run homer in the sixth, in a 7-3 loss -- and hurled the ball about five rows up into the upper deck behind the first-base dugout.
“Our guys battled from a deficit, got the lead, I gave it back, we tied it, and I gave it back on the homer [to Colby Rasmus],” Guthrie said afterward. “It’s frustrating. And I thought a fan upstairs deserved the ball. It’s always the fans down below who get the balls. Someone up on the third deck, cheap tickets, they deserve a ball.”
See? These guys aren’t out of control. They’re humanitarians.