Right-hander Danny Cox of the St. Louis Cardinals took time out from a pennant race to travel to Georgia and punch his former brother-in-law in the mouth.
"I started it. I finished it," Cox said Saturday. "It only took two punches."
Cox, the winning pitcher in a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets Thursday night, punched Richard Diebold, his former brother-in-law, on Friday. He said Diebold had been threatening his sister, Maxine, and his parents, who live in Warner Robins, Ga.
"I think anybody in that situation would have done the same thing," said Cox, a 6-4 230-pounder. "If you wouldn't have, then you're not a man and you don't love your family.
"You've only got one family."
The incident occurred at Robins Air Force Base, about 60 miles from Atlanta. Cox returned to St. Louis Friday night for the game between the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
"When you start threatening my family, that you're going to do them some physical harm, I'm going to retaliate," the pitcher said.
Cox said his father, a retired Air Force colonel, works as a civil servant at the base and could not intervene in the family matter because he could lose his job.
Diebold, a sports coordinator at the base, said Cox picked a fight and "hit me in the head a couple of times." Diebold and Cox's sister divorced in November.
Base officials would not comment on whether charges would be issued in the incident.