10/11/2003 10:00 PM ET
Zimmer takes one for the team
Bench coach charges Martinez, is thrown to ground
Video: 56K | 300K
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Tommy Lasorda on Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez: 56K | 300K
BOSTON -- It was one of the strangest sights anyone will ever see in a baseball game.
In the heat of an emotional American League Championship Series battle between the Yankees and Red Sox, Boston slugger Manny Ramirez objected to a high pitch by New York starter Roger Clemens and took a few steps toward the mound in the fourth inning.
That's not strange.
Especially after Boston starter Pedro Martinez threw behind Yankees outfielder Karim Garcia and hit him in the back in the fourth inning, prompting Garcia to slide hard into Boston second baseman Todd Walker to break up a double play.
That emptied the benches, too, and that wasn't strange, either.
But the sight of bald-headed, 72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer running on the field to go after Martinez was not just strange.
It was surreal, baffling, bizarre, you name it. And it didn't end there.
Zimmer got to Martinez and appeared to give a little fake punch with his right hand before attempting a sweeping overhand left.
Martinez put both hands on Zimmer and shoved him away, causing Zimmer to fall to the turf, where he sat, dazed, for a few minutes.
He returned to the Yankees bench when the fracas had been cleaned up and even appeared to be laughing and joking in the dugout as the Yankees completed their 4-3 win.
He suffered a cut on the bridge of his nose and was ushered out of Fenway Park for a precautionary checkup at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after the game.
"I've got nothin' to say," said Zimmer, who managed the Red Sox in the 1970s and has a metal plate in his head from a beaning he suffered in 1953. "Nothin'. We won."
Martinez said he was stunned by what transpired.
"By no means did I expect Zimmer to come at me," Martinez said. "He's an older man, a wiser man. Everyone respects him. I respect him."
"I think Zim is a little bit old for that," Sox manager Grady Little said. "I couldn't hardly understand that."
Neither could Todd Walker, who defended Martinez.
"You can't blame Pedro for defending himself in that situation," Walker said. "I specifically saw a bull rush from a 72-year-old man. He put himself at risk."
The Yankees weren't quite buying that.
"It's ridiculous," reliever Jeff Nelson said. "It's uncalled for. You just don't do that."
Garcia offered Martinez some advice if it happens in the future.
"You don't do that to a senior citizen, especially to a well-respected person," Garcia said. "Just back away. There's no need to get involved in that type of situation."
But overall, Zimmer's actions didn't seem to surprise the Yankees too much.
"Zim was all fired up," Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi said. "He's fiery and he loves the game. The only thing that was surprising was how fast he ran on the field. I did think it was sad, though. It's sad to see a 70-year-old man lying on the turf."
Scary, too, according to Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
"I was very afraid for Zim," Stottlemyre said. "He's my pal, he was laying on the ground, and, honestly, he didn't look very good. I didn't know what had happened."
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said he didn't know, either. In fact, he didn't even think it was Zimmer.
"I thought it was Boomer (Yankees pitcher David Wells)," Jeter said. "Because all I saw was that bald head. They have the same head."
Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon had a similar reaction.
"I didn't know who it was charging Pedro," Nixon said. "All I saw was someone with a bald head and I knew he was trying to hit someone. I hope he's all right. I still don't know what he was doing."
In the end, Clemens said the important thing was that Zimmer didn't appear to be injured too badly.
"He's just the funnest guy to be around," Clemens said. "We were just glad to help him off the ground. He had a little look in his eye that wasn't
right, and we helped him back to the dugout and he was fine.
"So we're happy that he's OK."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.