Almanack: Catcher in the affray

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The Independent Online
UNPLEASANT scenes in Yomiuri, Japan, where baseball players have been getting rather hot under the collar. A midweek game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Yakult Swallows was interrupted by a brawl classified by connoisseurs of the game as 'a real bench-clearer'.

The melee started when a pitch from the Swallows' Tatsuji Nishimura passed uncomfortably close to the head of the Giants' hitter Dan Gladden. Gladden set off for the mound determined to have a word with the pitcher, but he was intercepted by the Swallows' catcher, Chikashi Nakanishi.

The two set to like good 'uns but Gladden, who used to play for the Detroit Tigers, failed to account for the extensive protective clothing worn by a catcher. The best blow he landed fractured a couple of his own fingers, and he will be out for two months before serving a 12-day ban.

All in all it has not been a good week for the Yomiuri Giants. Their first post-brawl match was against the Yokohama Baystars, who whipped them 15-1.