During a skirmish between the Red Sox and Yankees in the American Championship Series, the rivalry turned into chaos at Fenway Park. Martinez spoke about the incident at length with Bleacher Report’s Master Tes for “Untold Stories.”
Martinez said Zimmer was unhappy about a ball he threw over then-Yankees outfielder Karim Garcia’s head. The Hall of Famer said the ball actually hit Garcia’s bat. After Garcia got to first, the next batter grounded into a double play and Martinez said he started to jaw at Garcia for a hard slide. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada notably started to talk trash from the dugout and pointed at his head.
In the next inning, things got more chaotic after Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens threw at Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez. Martinez said he was in the bathroom when things started to get out of hand.
“When I came out, the brawl was already (happening) because I’m zipping up my pants quickly, I’m trying to get to see what’s going on. And that’s when I hear the mumbling kind of behind me. And I see Zimmer rushing towards me and I’m like, ‘What?’ And that’s when he got close to me, said some bad words that I didn’t expect from Zimmer either,” Martinez said.
“He actually tried to jab me. So I pulled it and that’s why it looks like I grabbed him. But in reality, that’s the only blemish I would love to erase from my career. There hasn’t been any other moment where I felt worse in my life — I will tell you, my life — than that moment. And that moment led to a lot more.”
The Red Sox would lose in seven games that year thanks to an Aaron Boone walk-off home run against Tim Wakefield in Game 7.
Martinez and Boston would eventually get over the hump in 2004 and finally win the World Series.