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Pedro Martinez vs. Don Zimmer

One of the all-time strange and disturbing moments in Major League Baseball history occurred in game three of the 2003 American League Championship Series. The series between the Boston Red Sox and arch-rival New York Yankees would go down to the wire, with the Yankees winning the seventh game on Aaron Boone's homerun into the left field seats at Yankee Stadium.

Game three matched up all-time greats Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens at Fenway Park. The Red Sox got two runs in the first inning off Clemens on a two-run single, but as always, the Yankees crawled back into the game. Karim Garcia got a two-run single in the second inning to tie the game. In the third inning, Derek Jeter hit a homerun to make it 3-2, and in the fourth, the Yankees cushioned their lead by another run on a double by Hideki Matsui.

There were runners at second and third with nobody out, with light-hitting utility player Karim Garcia coming up to the plate. Martinez appeared visually upset about giving up a 2-0 lead, and was in danger of being given an early hook by manager Grady Little. Pedro lost his composure and hit Karim Garcia in the back of the helmet to load the bases. With one out, Garcia would slide hard into second Red Sox basemen Todd Walker on a double-play ball that ended the inning without any more scoring. The fans at Fenway, already restless over giving up the lead, were calling for Garcia's head.

Meanwhile, Pedro was jawing at the Yankee players in the dugout, when he pointed his finger at his head, and then at Yankee catcher Jorge Posada.

Leading off the bottom of the 4th for the Red Sox was big bopper Manny Ramirez. Clemens threw a pitch high and tight to back Ramirez off home plate. Manny took offense to this, and started towards the mound. The dugouts cleared, and Martinez sprinted out towards the field from the dugout with the rest of the players.

Suddenly, 72-year old Yankees Bench Coach and baseball elder Don Zimmer rushed Pedro and tried to land a right haymaker on the star pitcher. Pedro grabbed Zimmer by the melon with both hands and tossed him to the ground. This spectacle was almost enough to stop the brawl. Zimmer clearly thought Pedro was head hunting, as the coach had been beaned twice in his career as a player.

Zimmer actually has a metal plate in his head, and was knocked into a coma for six days after his second beaning, explaining his strong reaction to Pedro's pitching. The coach was taken by stretcher out of Fenway Park to a hospital for precautionary reasons. When the dust settled, the Yankees were still leading 4-2 despite Pedro's strange slam dunk. The Red Sox would score once more, but ace closer Mariano Rivera would get the final six outs, and the Yankees won 4-3 to take a 2-1 series lead. The image of Pedro grabbing Zimmer by the head will live on as one of the most infamous and surreal moments in baseball history.

Don Zimmer was also of course Boston Red Sox head coach from 1976 to 1980.

 

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