Baseball icon Don Zimmer died Wednesday night at age 83. If you’re like me, despite all the memorable things he did in his career as a player, coach and manager, one thing leaps to mind: the time he picked a fight with Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez.
It was during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS between the New York Yankees, for whom Zimmer was coaching, and the Red Sox. The two teams pretty much already hated each other, and the Yankees were convinced that Martinez was throwing at batters. He threw one behind Karim Garcia’s head, which started the trouble. Later in the game, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens threw one up and in to Manny Ramirez, and both benches emptied.
It was your typical baseball fight, a lot of pushing and shoving, when suddenly Zimmer, then 72, ran across the field at Martinez, who tossed Zimmer aside, throwing him to the ground.
Zimmer was taken to the hospital but was OK. He later blamed himself for the incident.
“I said it myself the next day in a press conference,” Zimmer told the New York Daily News years later. “I told the whole world I was wrong and that I was embarrassed by what I’d done and I apologized for it. I was definitely wrong and Pedro didn’t do nothing.”
It was an amazing example of Zimmer’s passion for the game.