George Steinbrenner, principal owner of the New York Yankees, does not plan to take any disciplinary action against Manager Billy Martin or pitcher Ed Whitson during the remainder of the regular season after their weekend fight in Baltimore, he said Monday.
“Ed Whitson will not be suspended as far as I know at this time. Nor will Billy,” Steinbrenner told the New York Times. “I don’t know how I could take action against one without taking action against the other.”
Martin suffered a broken right arm in the altercation with Whitson early Sunday at a Baltimore hotel bar. The brawl, which lasted on and off from midnight to 3 a.m., spilled into the lobby and wound up in the parking lot.
Steinbrenner said earlier he expected it would be “a while” before he had all of the details he wanted.
“There are some absolutely gigantic contradictions in the stories of the parties,” said Tom Reich, Whitson’s agent. “There’s no question the parties disagree as to who started the fight.”
Martin said a man came over to his table in the bar and said: “Get over there quick, Whitson’s in trouble.” Martin said that when he went over to Whitson’s table, “he turned on me and went crazy” and threw the first punch.
Whitson claims Martin sucker-punched him, triggering the brawl. Witnesses said both combatants appeared to be intoxicated.
“I just wish it hadn’t come to this situation,” Whitson told WABC-TV on Monday. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the past.”
The pitcher said he had not talked with Martin since the incident. Whitson said Reich had advised him not to discuss the specifics of the fight until all of the parties had talked.
Steinbrenner said he hoped to talk today by telephone from his Tampa, Fla., home with everyone concerned.
During the brawl, Martin vowed he would suspend Whitson for the rest of his Yankees’ contract, a five-year pact that started this season and is worth $4.4 million. Later, Martin relented and said Whitson would start Friday night against Baltimore.
“If he can pitch, he’ll pitch,” Martin said.
Steinbrenner indicated that while the fight itself bothered him, the fact that other Yankee players were in the hotel bar at 2 a.m. the night before a day game may have perturbed him more.