Editor’s note: This week, I’m running a week-long tribute to some of my favorite players, stretching from my earliest days to the present.
At a time when I had few new baseball cards, this one came to me in a cereal box, I believe.
I was sitting at the bar in a 99 with a couple of friends for Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS. It was a Saturday afternoon, and it seemed like a good setting to plop down for three hours with a beer, chicken wings and baseball.
Pedro Martinez was on the mound for the Red Sox, facing off against the Yankees’ Roger Clemens. And before long, there were shenanigans. Pedro hit Karim Garcia, gestured to Jorge Posada to “use his head,” and when Roger Clemens threw a high fastball that came within about four feet of Manny Ramirez’s head, the benches cleared.
And, famously, for reasons that aren’t quite clear, Don Zimmer, the 72-year-old bench coach for New York, made a bee line for Pedro, looking to exact revenge for — well, that’s not exactly clear, either.
Zimmer charged at Pedro, arms aloft. Pedro took one step back, grabbed the old man’s head and spun him to the ground.
Our reaction was primal. “OHHH! YES! PEDRO! HAHAHA!”
There was no doubt where our sympathies lived. Pedro Martinez was the man, a king in Boston. If the king throws an old man to the ground, you don’t question it. You stand and cheer and beg for more. Continue reading