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Cubs historical sleuthing: Ryan Dempster hits Ryan Braun... on purpose

There’s a story behind this, and we have video!

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

This recent interview of Ryan Dempster (also posted in Cub Tracks today) comes courtesy of Jon Zaghloul of Sports Talk Chicago — and it’s not the photo above we’re sleuthing here, but a couple of HBP and when they happened. Let me explain further.

In the video clip below, Dempster reveals that he hit Ryan Braun of the Brewers on purpose in a game at Wrigley Field in 2009.

First, watch the interview (it’s three and a half minutes and worth your time).

So why is this a sleuthing article? Because, of course, I wondered: When did these incidents happen? There were two of them, per the interview with Dempster.

In the interview, it’s stated that this happened in 2009. So off I went to check Braun’s game logs from 2009. Braun was hit by a pitch in games against the Cubs three times that year. Oddly, all three were by Dempster.

The first one was in the fifth inning April 12 at Miller Park. Looking at that game, it can’t be that HBP, because Dempster said Braun was “leading off the inning” and Braun didn’t in that game.

Further, Dempster also said that Braun had squared around to bunt in the at-bat in question, and so he threw at Braun’s head — but an 83 mile per hour pitch, not really very fast. You can see all of that in this clip, with Braun indeed leading off the fifth inning May 9, 2009:

Dempster goes on to say that Braun homered off him later in the game — the Cubs lost 12-6 — and that upset him a bit because Braun “styled” around the bases

Incidentally, modern replay review would have overturned that HBP, because as you can see in the video (and Bob Brenly mentions it), the ball clearly hit Braun’s bat.

Dempster then tells the story of how Braun said “My bad,” regarding the styling — but told Micah Hoffpauir, the Cubs’ first baseman the next day, instead of talking to Dempster himself.

MLB investigated this incident and cleared Dempster of any wrongdoing.

“Years later,” Dempster says about the second HBP in the interview, though it wasn’t — it happened a few months later at Wrigley Field. Braun was sent up to pinch-hit in the eighth inning of a game the Cubs were leading 1-0.

Dempster let the count run to 2-1 on Braun before hitting him:

And as Dempster says in the interview video he told Hoffpauir to tell Braun, when he reached first base: “My bad, it won’t happen again.” The Cubs won that game 2-0.

Those are the two games involved and the two HBP of Braun by Dempster that he references in the interview. They happened Sunday, May 10, 2009 and Monday, September 14, 2009.

Again, many thanks to Jon Zaghloul of Sports Talk Chicago for passing along this interview.