King GEORGE BELL – Baseball’s Most Frequently Ejected Dominican Player
There’s an old Reggae song that says “You can tell a bad man by the way he wears his hat”. If you don’t believe it, check out the guy in the Blue Jays cap in the photo above. More on him later.
First, I feel the need to begin with a disclaimer. The last thing I want to do with this article is reinforce the stereotype of the temperamental Latino ballplayer who’s liable to explode at a moment’s notice. I grew up in Baltimore during the Earl Weaver years, saw a lot of his ejections in real time, and can honestly say that one of my greatest not-so-guilty pleasures in baseball is watching a good show when the umpire throws somebody out of a game.
Last Friday night, my favorite current player -Orioles pitcher Daniel Cabrera- threw a pitch behind the head of Boston’s Dustin Pedroia & got ejected for breaking away from the umpire to wave on all the other Red Sox. Since nobody got hurt, and Cabrera only lost one game, I loved every one of the fifteen or so minutes it took to restore order.
So, here are the major leaguers from the Dominican Republic who’ve been ejected the most. In case I need to point it out again, most of the 457 Dominicans who’ve played in the major leagues have never been ejected at all.
The Dominican who’s been thrown out of the most big league games is Felipe Alou. He got tossed seventeen times, but only once as a player between 1958-74. The other sixteen occurred when he was managing from 1992-2006 when, arguably, it was just part of the job. Alou deserves a mention, but not a spot on the list of players ejected most frequently. Same goes for Yankees first base coach Tony Pena, who’s been ejected from nine big league games, but seven of those came when he was managing the Royals.
The players worthy of honorable mention, for being thrown out of five games, are as follows: Damaso Garcia, Jose Offerman, and Juan Samuel. Four current players have been tossed a handful of times in their careers. Sammy Sosa and Jose Mesa may be at the point where their days of getting thrown out are behind them, but you’ve got to figure sluggers David Ortiz and Albert Pujols will force their way onto the main list in coming seasons.
5th place – (tie) RAUL MONDESI was an All-Star outfielder who earned two Gold Gloves in a thirteen-year career, largely due to a powerful throwing arm that he symbolized by tatooing a cannon on his right bicep. Umpires were well acquainted with another explosive part of Mondesi though, a temper that got him ejected half-a-dozen times. On Ball Day at Dodger Stadium in 1995, Mondesi’s ejection arguing a third strike in the bottom of the ninth sparked an argument that caused more than 200 fans to hurl their new souvenirs on the field, forcing the Dodgers to forfeit. JULIAN TAVAREZ should rank higher than this. First of all, he’s still active. Second, six ejections for a guy who’s been primarily a relief pitcher are an awful lot. His highlights include an ejection and suspension for having a foreign substance on his cap, and three other suspensions for partcipating in various brawls, one of which occurred in spring training.
4th place – Again, just the fact that he was a pitcher means JOAQUIN ANDUJAR and his seven ejections ought to rank higher than this. Other than Juan Marichal hitting John Roseboro with a bat in 1965, the most publicized loss of temper in baseball history by a Dominican player came courtesy of Andujar twenty years later. After back-to-back 20-win seasons, he was asked to pitch mop up relief in a lopsided loss in the seventh game of the World Series, one day after the home plate umpire blew a call that Andujar’s Cardinals thought cost them a championship. Andujar threw only a few pitches before erupting and making contact with the ump, earning a ten-game suspension (later reduced to five) in front of a massive international television audience. Most of his ejections came from fights or hit batters deemed intentional, but he wasn’t even pitching in the first game he got thrown out of. He was simply trying to protect his friend and teammate, who just happens to be next on our list.
3rd place – I want to stick to incidents that occurred on the baseball field but, in the case of CESAR CEDENO, the manslaughter charge he copped to after a female acquaintence died of a gunshot early in his career affected everything that came after. The saddest example of the came in the first inning of a 1981 game at Atlanta, when he got ejected for going into the stands to fight with two fans that were unwilling to let him forget it. Overall, Cedeno was ejected on eight occasions.
2nd place – I must admit, off all the names on this list, MARIANO DUNCAN surprised me the most. Maybe it shouldn’t have. Duncan, now the Dodgers first-base coach, made news last season by hurling his hat at the umpire following his first ejection as a coach. The ump calmly picked it up and handed it to a fan in the seats. Duncan was ejected from nine games as a player during a thirteen-year career, three of them in 1990. He also drew a suspension that season after throwing his helmet and bumping an umpire while arguing a caught stealing.
1st place – No real surprise to anybody that saw him play, former American League MVP GEORGE BELL was tough on pitchers, infielders turning double plays, the media and even his own managers. He was a bit surly by nature, but never moreso than when a pitcher came too far inside. Bell’s career got sidetracked in the minor leagues when a pitch broke his jaw and, understandably, he remained vigilant about not letting it happen again. On June 23, 1985, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Boston’s Bruce Kison hit Bell with a pitch, and the Dominican raced towards the mound. When Bell got close, he leaped, and executed a flying kick that -fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view- missed it’s mark. Overall, Bell was ejected from thirteen games in twelve big league seasons.
Well, this was fun. In closing I should point out the Felipe Alou’s son Moises, the Mets left-fielder, has also been thrown out of thirteen games. Moises Alou was born in Georgia while his dad was starring for the Braves, but he’s definitely belongs on the short list with Bell when talking about the most frequently ejected Dominicans from big league ballgames.
A big ‘thank you’ to www.retrosheet.org is in order for making this data available.