Yankee fans may have looked at today’s date and thought to themselves, ‘Why is the date so familiar to me?” Well, I’m going to tell you.
There were a couple of “big” events that occurred on July 24. One in 1983 and one in 2004.
On July 24, 1983, the infamous pine tar game against the Kansas City Royals was played. The image of George Brett charging out of the visitor’s dugout at the old Stadium is a lasting memory in baseball lore. In fact, I’m picturing it right now and it’s still scaring me. I was 8-years-old at the time and watching the game with my father. And just as he was explaining to me what was happening with the pine tar, Brett started running out of the dugout.
I’ll never forget that.
Yankee manager Billy Martin had the umpires look at Brett’s bat after he hit a go ahead two-run home run. After inspecting it, the umpires ruled that Brett had too much pine tar on his bat, called him out and the Yankees won because Brett was the third out of the top of the ninth.
The Royals protested the outcome and the game was restarted in August after the commissioner’s office upheld the Royals’ protest. It picked up at the point of Brett’s home run and the Royals ended up winning the resumption in Yankee Stadium, 5-4.
On July 24, 2004, Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox famously fought with Alex Rodriguez on the field of Fenway Park. After being hit by a pitch thrown by the then non-corn rowed Bronson Arroyo, Rodriguez started jawing with him. Varitek stepped up to defend his young pitcher, said something to infuriate Rodriguez, they started jawing and Varitek shoved his glove into A-Rod’s face.
It was a moment captured in many pictures of all sizes and frames and that now symbolizes the gritty 2004 Red Sox’s World Series run.
What people from Boston don’t like to mention is that Varitek, never took his mask off, used his glove as a weapon and after throwing the glove down, reached in between A-Rod’s legs and grabbed his balls. What a tough guy.
My favorite part of the brawl didn’t involve Varitek or Rodriguez, it was the newly acquired Tanyon Sturtze who had to be held back by three Red Sox players. Sturtze grew up a Sox fan in New England so seeing him come to Rodriguez’s defense was wicked awesome. (Ew, did I really say that?)
This story also doesn’t have a happy ending as we all know. And I’m not rehashing it because as far as I’m concerned, the season ended on October 16 of that year…