Kyle Farnsworth: Where Are They Now?
To no one’s surprise, Kyle Farnsworth brought along a cage so Rambo, his 10-year-old American bulldog, could sit in the dugout during a recent charity softball event for the South Carolina Youth Diabetes Association in Lexington, S.C.
Rambo was one of his two bulldogs that engaged in a fight during the 2009 season when he was pitching for the Royals. When he interceded, Farnsworth famously was left with several stitches on his pitching hand.
Such was the career of Farnsworth, a reliever who pitched for nine teams over a career that spanned 16 seasons and included five playoff appearances.
Yet talk of Farnsworth’s career invariably turns to his off-mound matters. CBS Sports called Farnsworth “baseball’s heavyweight champion.” SB Nation labeled him the “greatest baseball fighter of all time.”
“Fights are never fun,” said Farnsworth, 42, who has a black belt in karate. “Things happen in the heat of the moment. I have no hard feelings against anybody about the things that happened.”
The first and most renowned of his incidents occurred in June 2003 when Farnsworth was pitching for the Cubs. An inside pitch got away from him, which led to a brief stare-down with the Reds’ Paul Wilson, the opposing pitcher. In a blink, Farnsworth lifted Wilson and slammed him to the ground. Farnsworth followed by landing a couple of haymaker punches.
“It was a flashback from my football days,” Farnsworth said.
A year later, Farnsworth took out his frustration on an evaporative cooler in the Cubs’ dugout. The cooler won. Farnsworth suffered a hairline fracture in his leg after kicking it.
“My dad always told me . . . kick (something), so you don’t mess up your pitching hand,” Farnsworth said.
Then there was the 2005 brawl when Farnsworth was with the Tigers. A couple of shoving matches broke out following a bean-ball exchange. The next thing anyone knew, Farnsworth engaged in fisticuffs with Jeremy Affeldt of the Royals.
Case Closed: Reflecting On Mariano Rivera's Impact On Baseball
The first unanimous Baseball Hall Of Fame selection, Mariano Rivera impacts baseball every day, even if he's retired.
“He kept running his mouth. That’s when my switch flipped,” said Farnsworth, who still sports scars on his left arm from being spiked at the bottom of the pile.
On the pitcher’s mound, Farnsworth allowed one earned run over six innings in his first big league start for the 1999 Cubs. Chicago had drafted him in the 47th round out of Milton (Ga.) High in 1994 and signed him a year later as a draft-and-follow.
Farnsworth was the winning pitcher in manager Bobby Cox’s last win for the Braves, a 2010 playoff game against the Giants. In 2005, he had a 2.19 ERA with 16 saves for the Braves and Tigers. In 2011, he had a 2.18 ERA and 25 saves for the Rays. He ranks 29th all time with 893 games.
“I take great pride in that and the ability to be able take care of my body, remain healthy and productive,” said Farnsworth, who carried 4 percent body fat on his 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame as a player. He has packed on 20 more pounds in retirement while remaining chiseled.
He recently bought into a joint gym partnership in Winter Garden, Fla., that offers instruction in pitching and baseball, speed and agility workouts and nutrition plans.
To no one’s surprise, Farnsworth is in his fifth and final season as a defensive lineman on the Orlando Phantoms semipro football team.