Texas Ranger second baseman Len Randle, enraged at being called a "punk" by manager Frank Lucchesi, punched Lucchesi in the fact today, breaking his right cheekbone. Randle was immediately suspended.
Lucchesi, who last week said he was tired of Randle's griping about his status with the Rangers, was admitted to Orlando's mercy Hospital.
A doctor in charge of the hospital's emergency room said Lucchesi was in pain when he was admitted and that tests would be made to determine if surgery would be required.
"They are going to take X rays to see the extent of the damage," said general manager Danny O'Brien. "Frank's face was swollen on one side around his right eye. Lenny has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. It is hard to say what we will do."
The Lucchesi-Randle confrontation had been building throughout spring training.
Randle, who hit 228 last season, came to camp this season upset because the Rangers already had panciled in Bump Wills, son of former major league base-stealing star Maury Wills, as the starting second baseman. When Will's picture appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine last week, Randle became even more incensed.
He threatened to walk out of camp last week but was stopped by pitchers Gaylord Perry and Bert Blyleven and first baseman Mike Hargrove.
Following that incident, Lucchesi said, "It's just 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 springs is not going to get a tear out of me."
"Frank said Lenny came up to him and said 'I don't think you are treating me right," said club spokesman Burt Hawkins. "Frank told him, 'Let's go over here and talk about it.'"
After about two minutes of conversation, witnesses said, Randle suddenly threw a punch at Lucchesi.
"Lenny stepped back and hit Frank and hit him two or three times as he was going down and then hit him while he was on the ground," Hawkins said. "Frank said he didn't remember a thing after he was hit the first time."
"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."
Randle said he approached Lucchesi along the third base line to talk to him and Lucchesi told him: "What do you got to say, punk?" 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."
Ranger 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."