Anybody but Farnsworth

Even the toughest big leaguers are afraid of Kyle Farnsworth

Updated: May 5, 2010, 10:30 AM ET
By Luke Cyphers | ESPN The Magazine
Patrick Hoelck for ESPN The MagazineWhen the benches clear, Farnsworth is not afraid to throw down.

This story appears in the May 17 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Hell yes, his fellow big leaguers are scared of him.

They're not stupid.

First, there are the physical features of Kyle Farnsworth, who looks like he took a wrong turn at the NFL combine. He's 240 pounds, spread taut over a 6'4" frame, with 6.5% body fat.

Then there's his mien. It's a mean mien. A man's mien. In the clubhouse, his iPod earbuds appear to be surgically implanted, so there's no getting his attention with a polite "how do you do." On his face is a fixed, distant, ignore-it-all stare that players usually reserve for reporters. Farnsworth doesn't relax that countenance for anyone, not even his Royals teammates. There's nary a smile, or any emotion at all. No eye contact either. Not that anyone would want it.

That's because everyone in the clubhouse has seen the videos and heard the stories, and all believe the legend of Kyle Farnsworth. According to The Magazine's MLB Confidential survey, the journeyman reliever with the roller-coaster career is the runaway choice as the toughest man in baseball. Surprised? He once mauled a man just for giving him a funny look.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.