On March 28, 1977 – Texas Rangers second baseman Lenny Randle, upset at losing his second base job to Bump Wills during spring training,(Wills batted 324 with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League last year.) physically confronts manager Frank Lucchesi, sending him to the hospital with a shattered cheekbone. Lucchesi helps precipitate the incident, which occurred just before the team’s exhibition game against Minnesota by calling the usually good-natured Randle a “punk”. Randle will receive a 30-day suspension. On April 26th, he will be traded to the New York Mets for infielder Rick Auerbach and cash.
The trouble began to brew last week when Lucchesi publicly referred to Randle as a “punk” in answer to Randle’s demands that he be given a chance to play regularly or be traded to another team.
“All I wanted to do was talk to him,” Randle said after the incident. “I never thought it would come to this, but I guess these things happen in life sometimes.”
At that time, Randle. said, “I just ran out of Cheek. They just told me to get dressed and try to cool off. I hate that this had to happen, but I guess he took my passiveness for granted. All a man wants is respect. It was just impulsive. I’m not Judas and he’s not Jesus Christ.”
Witnesses said Randle hit Lucchesi three times in the face with a left, a right and another left. Lucchesi fell to the ground and Randle started towards him again When Bert Campaneris, the shortstop, jumped in and pushed Randle away.
Ken Henderson, an outfielder, then had to be restrained by teammates when he tried to go after Randle.
The team’s owner, Brad Corbett, said: “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. I want to hear both sides, but for now, as far as I am concerned, he [Randle] is suspended.”
Corbett said he was very upset with the club’s executive vice president, Eddie Robinson, and the general manager, Danny O’Brien, “I told them I wanted to get rid of Randle. I knew there was a boiling point. I think we made a terrible mistake.”
Lucchesi was quoted as having said:
It’s too damn bad somebody stopped him from leaving. I’m tired of these punks saying play me or trade me. Anyone who makes $80,000 a year and gripes and moans all spring is not going to get a tear out of me.”
Lucchesi also said he was sorry Randle had been talked out of leaving the team.
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