It all began in 1920, when one man would start a rivalry between two teams. Those two teams would build up their rivalry to have the strength to go on for what’s been 90 years.
Who would have thought that the trade of one of the most prolific baseball players to ever play the game had the power to start something that would continue even after he was six feet under?
USA Today has called it “the fiercest rivalry in sports.” My most memorable moments as a Red Sox fan were when this rivalry was expressed. The instances that stand out in my mind are, well of course their bench-clearing fights.
I thought I would just go through some occurrences that make up what we know today as Red Sox/Yankee baseball:
- 1941: Even though those awful pinstripes won the World Series, Ted Williams—who personally, I think was the greatest to ever play the game, hands down—batted .406 on the season. He was the last person to bat over .400 in a single season. The American League MVP was between Teddy and Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio, who had a 56 game hitting streak, won the race. Score one for the enemy.
- May 24, 1952: Jimmy Piersall (Red Sox) and Billy Martin (Yankees) fought in the tunnel under the stands after the two insulted each other (how grown-up of them). Piersall ended up sitting out that game, but the Red Sox still won 5-2. That’s one for the good guys.
- August 1, 1973: Top of the ninth, scored tied at two. Thurman Munson (Yankee catcher) tries coming home from third on a missed bunt. He collides with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, and Munson ends up decking Fisk. That’s one more for New York.
- May 20, 1976: Lou Piniella of the Yankees meets Carlton Fisk feet first while trying to score. The two fought and the benches cleared. After everything settles down, Bill Lee and Graig Nettles start it up again.
- September 10, 1999: Pedro Martinez (we miss ya, man) strikes out 17 Yankee batters. That number is the most against a Yankee team, ever.
- October 11, 2003: I think we all remember this episode of Red Sox/Yankee baseball. Pedro hits Karim Garcia, and both teams are on their feet. Roger Clemens throws at Manny Ramirez and that clears the benches and starts a brawl. Don Zimmer—who was so old, he could barely walk, let alone “charge”—went after Pedro, and he “throws” him to the ground. That same day, a groundskeeper for Red Sox was beaten up by Karim Garcia and Jeff Nelson because he was supporting the Red Sox (keep on cheering!).
- February of 2004: The Yankees acquire Alex Rodriguez. For them, they get a slugger. For the Red Sox, it was just another addition to the intensity, another disagreement, another fight.
- July 24, 2004: Mr. Rodriguez fights with catcher Jason Varitek, which clears the benches. Bill Mueller won the game with a walk-off home run off legendary closer Mariano Rivera.
- October 19, 2004: Curt Schilling and his “bloody sock” defeat the Yankees in their own house. During that game, Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove. The more didn’t help him much because the Red Sox became the first team ever to tie the series after being down three games to none.
- October 20, 2004: Less than 24 hours later, Boston beats New York for the first time in 100 years for the AL title (I was so proud).
- Seven days later: The 86-year drought ends with the Red Sox becoming World Champions.
- April 14, 2005: Gary Sheffield’s hat is tipped off by a Red Sox fan, while trying to make a play. Sheffield pushes the fan back.
After that, it pretty much died down, mainly because the Yankees have not been up to their caliber of play that most are familiar with. The Red Sox won again in 2007, and as we all know, Hank Steinbrenner really hit home with his hateful comments directed towards the beloved Red Sox Nation.
I'm sure these comments only sparked the rivalry for the 2008 season and I’m excited to see the outcome. Show us what you got, Yankees fans—bring it on, because we will be ready for you.