A Tense Batting Practice Ended In Bo Jackson Nearly Choking The Life Out His Teammate

The heat of competition can bring out the worst in any of us. And when it comes to professional sports, where the stakes can be astronomically high, the worst can mean all-out brawls on the field or court, especially among longstanding rivals. In 2006, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth pushed off the helmet of Dallas Cowboys guard Andre Gurode before gruesomely stomping on his head, leading to a bloody scene and dozens of stitches to Gurode's face. On the basketball court, Larry Bird was notorious for running his mouth as he faced his rivals — so much so that it led to the famous 1984 fist fight between him and Julius "Dr. J" Irving. In 1993, after Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura got beaned by a pitch from Texas Ranger Nolan Ryan, he charged the mound, which was the catalyst for a bench clearing for both teams and remains one of the most famous fights in the sport to this day. And we don't even have to tell you what Mike Tyson did to Evander Holyfield in their infamous 1997 boxing match.

It's understandable and even encouraged among some coaches to have a certain amount of animosity toward your rivals. But it's a whole other thing when those feelings bubble over in your own clubhouse. And that's exactly what happened in 1988 when the Kansas City Royals had to put out a fire on their own squad between left fielder Bo Jackson and third baseman Kevin Seitzer.

Seitzer was a known problem on the team

According to Jeff Pearlman's 2022 book "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson," Kevin Seitzer (above) would go out of his way to be a problem for other players on the team. "Kevin was annoying," Jeff Montgomery, a relief pitcher on the team, told Pearlman, adding, "Not a bad person. But he pushed things when it was better to walk away." Other players described Seitzer as a constant irritation who seemed to enjoy getting under the skin of his teammates. "He always puts his two cents in. And guys are like, 'Will you shut the f*** up?'" said Jackson.

But on that fateful day early in the 1988 season, Jackson was uninterested in Seitzer's two cents. During batting practice, Jackson quickly went to the locker room for a gear change and Seitzer — who had already had one turn at bat — jumped Jackson in line while he was away. Upon return, Jackson said, "Excuse me ... but didn't you just take your f***ing turn?" To that, according to Pearlman's book, Seizer said, "Well, you should have been here." After some more jawing back and forth, Seitzer crossed the line, as far as Jackson was concerned. "Kevin said to Bo, 'F*** you — you weren't here,'" Brian Watley, a Royals batboy, told Pearlman. He added: "Saying 'f*** you' to Bo seemed a little risky." Jackson gave his own warning: "Don't say anything else to me, or I'm going to kick your ass."

Seitzer couldn't keep his mouth shut

Seitzer cleared the cage and Jackson missed his first cut. Seitzer, seemingly taking satisfaction in Jackson's whiff, chuckled. And that's when Jackson had had enough. He slammed his bat to the ground, grabbed Seitzer by the throat, and knocked his head into the nearby concrete wall. According to Pearlman's "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson," Seitzer's eyes rolled back in his head. But that wasn't enough for Jackson to stop. "Look, you picked the wrong motherf***er to f*** with on the wrong day!" Jackson screamed. "As long as you're breathing air, don't you ever talk to me like that again! Motherf***er, I will break your neck!"

Nobody could get Jackson to stop. "The harder I squeezed, his eyes rolled back in his head," Jackson told Pearlman. "And the harder they pulled on me, the stiffer my arm got." Jackson had lifted Seitzer off the ground and his face began turning blue. Jackson eventually let go of Seitzer, who was taken to the training room for treatment, while Jackson stewed in the locker room. He wasn't done yet and stormed into the training room, hovering over Seitzer: "Don't you ever cross me again," Jackson warned Seitzer. "If you do, I am not going to give those coaches time enough to grab me. I'm going to rip your a**hole, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart." Seitzer, unable to speak, signaled that he understood.

Jackson tells Seitzer how it is

After being emphatically put in his place, Seitzer tried to smooth things over with Jackson. According to Pearlman's "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson," Seitzer approached Jackson about a half-hour later, asking him if they could put that episode behind them and be friends. Jackson replied with a resounding "No!" He explained to Seitzer, "The s*** don't work that way. You have said what you want to say, and you mean it, but now you want to come back and ass lick with me and say you're sorry? No."

That year wound up being an abysmal season for the Royals. According to Sports Illustrated, manager John Wathan had lost the respect of the players and had difficulty running the team. Overall team morale was poor, and there was palpable animosity between the bullpen and the rest of the team. Racial tensions seemed part of the equation as well. In 1991, Jackson, hampered by a hip injury, said goodbye to the Kansas City Royals and did his best to leave without an ax to grind. He even hugged Seitzer as he left the clubhouse. "I don't want this to be another War of the Roses," Jackson said (via another Sports Illustrated report). For his part, some years later, Seitzer told Pearlman that Jackson was "a very good teammate, but not someone I knew that well," adding, "We weren't close."