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This Day in Yankees History: The brawl with the Tigers

Revisiting the realest baseball fight of my lifetime.

MLB: New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. The season may be underway, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a trip into the past. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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3 Years Ago

Only one interesting thing has happened in Yankee history on August 24th. The setting is Detroit’s Comerica Park, as the first iteration of the Baby Bombers scrap with a veteran Detroit Tigers club. It starts in the fifth inning, as the 2016 Rookie of the Year finalists squared off.

Michael Fulmer hit Gary Sánchez after August Gary reared his powerful head. Sánchez had crushed his 11th home run of August in the fourth, admired it, and as such, Fulmer took it upon himself to probably intentionally throw at Gary just an inning later. Both the Tigers as a team and Fulmer individually tried to pass the infraction off as the symptom of an injury but... I find it hard to buy that.

In the sixth inning, Tommy Kahnle recorded the first two outs of the inning before throwing behind Miguel Cabrera in the first pitch of the plate appearance. All hell broke loose after that, as Kanhle and Joe Girardi were both ejected, for the intentional buzzing of Cabrera and Girardi’s disagreement with his reliever getting tossed.

As Girardi is walking off the field, Cabrera and Yankees catcher Austin Romine begin to jaw at each other, and the fisticuffs began:

This is the smartest thing Romine ever did in his career. According to program height/weight, Romine is giving up three inches and 33 pounds to Cabrera. The only way to fight a guy that much bigger than you is to get under him and get him to the ground. Really good awareness from Romine here.

The benches and bullpens clear, and we get perhaps the most famous, enduring image of the brawl, as David Robertson absolutely blazes out of the ‘pen to defend the honor of his backup catcher:

There are plenty of ways to watch the brawl online, with a highlights package here, and the full ten-minute brouhaha below:

My favorite part of the whole exchange is seeing Aaron Judge pull five different Tigers out of the pile all by himself. Just like the 2018 brawl with the Red Sox, you only really get an appreciation for how much stronger Judge is than 99% of baseball players when you see the way he can absolutely manhandle other professional athletes when he has to.

In total five players were suspended, with both Sánchez and Romine barred for the punches thrown. Miguel Cabrera, the instigator of the main fight, was hit with a seven-game ban. Of course the guy who started the whole thing, Michael Fulmer, escaped punishment.

The Yankees-Tigers brawl is one of the real highlights of one of my favorite Yankee seasons in recent memory. It was a chance to see real emotion on the field and drew a clear contrast between the buttoned-up Yankee image and the flair the Baby Bombers brought to the field. It’s also probably impossible to say how much the fight brought together a clubhouse in preparation for an ALCS run.

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We thank Baseball-Reference,, Baseball Almanac and for providing background information for these posts.