Albert Belle Hits Sports Illustrated Photographer With Baseball: This Day in Sports History

Albert Belle.
Albert Belle. / Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

The legends of Albert Belle are vast and unbecoming. There was the time he threatened to kill trick-or-treaters as he ran them off his lawn in a car. Or the time a teammate turned down the temperature in the clubhouse and Belle, who liked a sub-60 temperature, stood up, turned it back down and then smashed the thermometer with his bat. And most famously, he cursed out Hannah Storm and other reporters before Game 3 of the 1995 World Series. But on this day in 1996, Belle took it a step further with the media, hitting a photographer with a baseball.

The legend goes that Sports Illustrated was writing a feature on Belle, who told SI writer Michael Babberger that "Sports Illustrated can kiss my black ass." Even though Babberger didn't get an interview with Belle, SI photographer Tony Tomsic still needed to get pictures of the slugger. Tomsic tried to get a few as Belle warmed up on April 6, but Belle, a notorious control freak who hated doing pregame interviews because they interfered with his routine, told Tomsic to stop. Tomsic complied, but Belle still decided to throw two balls at the photographer. One of them cut Tomsic on the hand after he raised it to protect his face. 

The story was actually swept under the rug initially. It wasn't until two weeks later that Belle was even called into the AL office to explain what happened. Tomsic was treated by the Indians medical staff afterward and declined to press charges on Belle. Belle was not suspended for the incident.

Belle accomplished a lot in his career. He was a five-time All-Star, is one of only three players to hit 50 homers and 50 doubles in a season and is one of only six players in MLB history to have nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons. But he'll always be remembered for his temper, outbursts and disdain for the media, one member of which experienced all three in the form of a pair of baseballs thrown at him.