Have Fastball (and Passport), Will Travel for Retaliation

elias-sosaResearching a new project, I ran across a tale of a player waiting for revenge through multiple teams, multiple leagues and even multiple countries. It all ended with a fight … but not one that might have been expected.

From The Sporting News, Aug. 25, 1973:

Tommy Lasorda once managed pitcher Elias Sosa in the Dominican Republic winter league. Last winter, however, Lasorda helmed the Licey Tigers, which included eight young members of the Dodgers. Sosa, a member of the San Francisco Giants, pitching for the Escogido Lions, drilled Steve Garvey, then Von Joshua, and the Tigers rushed the field. Sosa retreated to right field to escape, but was subsequently drilled by Licey’s Pedro Borbon, of the Reds.

Accusing Lasorda of ordering the pitch, Sosa carried his grievance all the way to San Francisco the other night, where he threw one at the skull of Dodger pitcher Andy Messersmith, who narrowly escaped. Sosa caught a verbal shot from Lasorda, who was told the next day by manager Charlie Fox to stop harassing his pitcher.

A shocking thing then happened. The two suddenly started throwing punches. Charlie grew up in the Irish section of the Bronx. The fight was slowed instantly when the stomachs of the two collided, but Lasorda claims to have landed pulverizing punches.
The windup, according to Lasorda, was a promise on the part of Sosa to get even with him in Santo Domingo, where Elias has friends.

Lasorda, of course, loved to fight and was never shy about retaliation, so maybe Sosa had a point. Of course, to exact revenge upon Lasorda in a different league, against a player who wasn’t even in the country when the first shot was fired, took things to an unprecedented level.

Sosa ended up pitching for Lasorda in Los Angeles in 1976 and 1977, so his feelings couldn’t have been too badly hurt.

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