10/11/2003 9:45 PM ET
Umpires had hands full in Game 3
Both managers agree with crew's actions
BOSTON -- Yankees 72-year-old bench coach Don Zimmer emerged from a shocking, one-missed-punch, benches-clearing incident with a cut between his eyes on Saturday.
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
But while 34,209 fans at Fenway Park, and millions of viewers around the world saw it occur during a bitter bottom of the fourth inning of the Yankees' 4-3 victory in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, it isn't clear if the six umpires saw it.
Zimmer veered away from an angry cluster of Sox red and Yankee blue in front of home plate, charged and swung a left hook at Red Sox starting pitcher Pedro Martinez. But Zimmer wound up hitting the ground face-first, as Martinez yanked him forward as he sidestepped the punch.
Whether the umpiring crew saw the incident is in question because it resulted in no ejections. Martinez stayed in the game and Zimmer stayed on the bench, although the coach went to a local hospital for a precautionary trip after the game.
But while Zimmer and Martinez were engaged, the umpiring crew was dealing with another scary situation that precipitated the incident. After a high pitch, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens and Boston's Manny Ramirez screaming at one another, with Ramirez refusing to drop his bat.
The incident was in response to a Martinez pitch that sailed behind the head and glanced off the upper back of the Yankees' Karim Garcia in the top of the same inning.
Initially after the game, Major League Baseball announced that crew chief Tim McClelland would address the media in the postgame interview room. But after both managers and Clemens answered questions, MLB announced that McClelland would not appear, and sent word that his crew's actions on the field spoke for themselves. There was no word on the possibility of further discipline.
Before heading to the hospital, Zimmer, who has worked in professional baseball for 54 years and began his first managerial job in 1972 just months after Martinez was born on Oct. 25, 1971, said, "I've got nothing to say. ... We won."
The managers, both of whom said they didn't see what happened between Zimmer and Martinez, gave the umpires high marks.
"Tim McClelland and his group were outstanding," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "They explained that, sure, things happened that probably under normal circumstances, people would have gotten thrown out. But they explained, I think, they took into consideration that it's the postseason."
Boston manager Grady Little said, "It's unfortunate that it came to that, but the umpires did an outstanding job of controlling the situation and we went on playing baseball."
Although the umpires didn't comment, it could be a safe assumption that they entered the game aware of the possibility of an incident.
Martinez hit Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter with pitches during the regular season, making for a nice replay reel that the networks were prepared to run just in case. Clemens openly talks about pitching inside and intimidating hitters, and the New York Mets' Mike Piazza found out during a 2000 Interleague game that Clemens means it.
But a main event with the venerable Zimmer trying to use his fist to teach a lesson to Martinez, who gives away 41 years in this bizarre tale of the tape, was one no one could have seen coming.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.