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Cubs historical sleuthing: Cubs/Mets brawl edition

Here’s one I hadn’t remembered.

Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

Here’s what Getty Images says about this photo:

Bob Ojeda of the New York Mets is restrained by teammates Don Zimmer and Ron Darling in a fight during a game with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Well, there’s one problem with that right away. Don Zimmer clearly was not a Mets “teammate” of Ojeda and Darling — he was the Cubs manager at the time. Ojeda was a Met from 1986-90, and Zimmer was Cubs manager from 1988-91. So we’re looking at a Cubs/Mets brawl sometime between 1988 and 1990.

A little bit of searching found this New York Times description of the brawl, which happened on a very hot Chicago afternoon, Saturday, June 25, 1988:

Things grew so hot that the teams nearly got into a brawl in the sixth inning, just after the Cubs had tied the score, 2-2, on a home run by Rafael Palmeiro. The next pitch from Bob Ojeda struck Andre Dawson on the left wrist, and Dawson headed for the mound as both benches emptied.

As the teams milled around and pushed on the infield grass, nobody threw any punches, but the Mets may have suffered a casualty. Ron Darling, who underwent surgery on his right thumb last September, jammed the thumb while trying to restrain Ojeda.

Darling, as it turned out, did pitch the next day, throwing six innings. The Cubs won that game 6-3, and won the Saturday game 5-2.

We have video of this incident! The game happened to be NBC’s Game of the Week, so enjoy the call by Vin Scully:

The video also makes it clear who the visible Cubs are at the right of the photo. No. 5 is coach Chuck Cottier, and the player whose number starts with “1” in the photo is backup catcher Jim Sundberg. Sundberg, in fact, was in his final days as a Cub, as he was released by the team July 15.

As noted, the Cubs won the brawl-game 5-2. Ryne Sandberg gave the Cubs the lead with an RBI single in the eighth and Mark Grace tripled in two more runs later in that inning.