Robin Ventura will make his managerial debut with the Chicago White Sox on April 6, and when he does, Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan will be nestled comfortably in his seat in between home plate and first base down on the front row of Rangers Ballpark.
You can bet when Ventura is announced for his first game as a manager, he'll get a fair amount of boos and you can also bet Ryan will have a little snicker to himself. It's like the cruelest practical joke ever to have Ventura making his debut in Arlington, in front of the most mythical character to ever play baseball in Arlington.
You see, back on Aug. 4, 1993, Ryan got a little too far inside on Ventura, and the promising young player took exception and charged the legendary flame thrower ready for a fight.
At White Sox Fan Fest this past weekend, Ventura explained the turn of events as something he "had to do," referring to the previous two games in that series when four batters were hit on both sides.
"What the teams were going through at the time, there was a lot of back and forth,'' Ventura said. "Sometimes as a player, you pick a spot that something needs to happen."
But as he's said many times before, Ventura immediately began having second thoughts just a few strides out toward the hill, where a 46-year-old legend was waiting for him.
We all know what happened from that point when Ryan wrestled Ventura into a headlock, took four right-handed punches to the top of Ventura's head then landed a vicious uppercut to his face. The funny thing, in retrospect, is that Ventura was thrown out of the game and Ryan was allowed to stay in even though it was pretty obvious Ryan's pitch was meant for Ventura's back.
Just goes to show, don't mess with a legend.