When Robin Ventura charged the mound vs. Nolan Ryan

August 4th, 2023

Nolan Ryan plunked 158 batters during his Hall of Fame career, but it was his final HBP that sparked one of baseball's most surreal moments.

When the 46-year-old right-hander drilled 26-year-old Robin Ventura with a pitch in the third inning on Aug. 4, 1993, nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Ventura dropped his bat, tossed his helmet to the ground and charged the mound.

Not one to back down from a fight, Ryan more than held his own against a player 20 years younger. He quickly put Ventura in a headlock and rained punches on the overmatched third baseman's head.

"It was just self-preservation," Ryan said after the game. "I didn't expect that to happen. I was just trying to pitch him inside. You don't have time to think, you just react. I'm not a big believer in fights, but we'll do what it takes to win."

Ventura earned one of his four career ejections for his actions, while Ryan stayed in the game and lasted seven innings to earn the decision in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the White Sox. Chicago had struck first on Ventura's RBI single in the first inning, and he sounded certain the HBP was no accident.

"If you don't think he did it on purpose, you don't know the game," Ventura said at the time. "I'm all right. He gave me a couple of noogies, but that was about it."

Ventura has since joked that there must have been 500,000 people in the stadium based on how many people said they were there. One fan in attendance was future White Sox star Paul Konerko, who even met Ventura before the game as part of the U.S. Junior Olympic baseball team.

"And I remember for every inning after that, the whole place was chanting 'Nolan' for what seemed like an hour long," Konerko told NBC Sports Chicago. "It was an electric-type atmosphere after that happened."

In the decades since, both combatants have been regularly reminded of their skirmish. Ventura could not even escape it during his managerial debut for the White Sox in 2012. The opponent? The Rangers. Texas' team president? Nolan Ryan.

"I’m just amazed that of all of the things that happened in my career, I’m still known for that," Ryan told USA TODAY. "And people still remember it."