1991 NEWS

1991 News > Brushback War

MURPHY CAUGHT IN BRUSHBACK WAR

By IJ Rosenberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When teammate Otis Nixon was hit by a pitch from the Phillies' Roger McDowell in the ninth inning Wednesday, Braves lefthander Tom Glavine faced quite a dilemna.

With Dale Murphy leading off in the bottom of the inning for Philadelphia, would Glavine hit his friend and former teammate, or throw at the next batter?

Glavine compromised.

He sent a message to the Phillies by brushing Murphy back on four straight soft pitches, then was ejected by umpire Bob Davidson.

"Having Dale up made for a very uncomfortable situation," Glavine said after the Braves 9-2 win. "If it's a different situation, a different hitter, something different might have happened."

Said Murphy, "It was like playing dodgeball out there. I don't think Tommy had the same velocity on those pitches that he did the rest of the game."

If Glavine's pitches were soft, feelings between the Phillies and Braves are hard. The episode between McDowell and Nixon was prompted by an incident two weeks ago on Dale Murphy Night in Atlanta when Nixon was hit by a Wally Ritchie pitch. Nixon rushed the mound, kicking Ritchie and leaving several marks on his face after landing several punches. Nixon was suspended four games for his actions, but his appeal remains pending.

Wednesday, with the Braves leading 5-2, Nixon, who had replaced Lonnie Smith in left field in the eighth was brushed back by McDowell, a pitch that placed the umpires on alert and putting players on both clubs on the top of the dugout steps. McDowell's next pitch hit Nixon on the right shoulder.

Nixon pointed at McDowell, but did not charge the mound. He went to first, and later directed some remarks toward the Phillies' dugout, prompting McDowell to poke his head out, but he was held back by teammates.

Nixon would not comment on the incident because of his appeal. Manager Bobby Cox said, "I said too much last time about it, so I am not saying anything."

But many Atlanta players applauded Glavine's actions.

"He's protecting us, " said Jeff Blauser. "I know I'm grateful."

Added catcher Greg Olson, who said he did not tip off Murphy as to what was about to happen, "What McDowell did was bulljunk. People don't come to baseball games to see fights."

McDowell said he did not throw at Nixon. "I was just pitching him inside," he said.

Said Murphy, "I don't know how to evaluate or characterize this one. I don't want to get into reading minds."