10/12/2003 12:45 AM ET
Ninth-inning bullpen scuffle erupts
Action in Yankees 'pen leads to police investigation
BOSTON -- A Fenway Park grounds crew worker was involved in a scuffle with several Yankees players in the visiting bullpen during the ninth inning of Saturday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. The incident has prompted a police investigation.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
The players involved said that the man, Paul Williams, was attempting to taunt them by cheering loudly for Boston.
According to Yankees relief pitcher Jeff Nelson, Williams was waving a "rally rag" around throughout much of the game, "eyeballing" the New York relievers. After Hideki Matsui grounded into a double play to end the top of the ninth inning, Nelson said Williams got even louder. Nelson said he asked Williams to leave the bullpen.
"I told him, 'If you're going to wave the rag and root for the Red Sox, why don't you go watch it from their bullpen?" Nelson said. "Don't do it in our faces.' I asked him nice, but he got up in my face a little bit."
Jeff Weaver, who was also sitting in the bullpen, described the events in a similar fashion.
"Nellie asked him to go to the other bullpen, and the guy stood up in his face. That was the end of it," Weaver said. "He got right in Nellie's face and started cussing at him. That was a bad idea."
Shoving ensued, though it is unclear who initiated the physical contact. Yankees outfielder Karim Garcia, who was warming up in right field, jumped over the bullpen fence and entered the picture. Garcia said he was trying to separate Nelson and Williams, as Boston police and Fenway security intervened as well.
Garcia suffered a cut to his left hand in the incident and had to leave the game. He said he thought he may have cut his hand on the fence or on someone's spikes.
"I was warming up, and all of a sudden I saw someone pushing Nelson. I jumped over the fence to see what was going on," Garcia said. "When I came back, my hand was bleeding. I don't know how it happened."
Williams offered a different description of the incident.
"I pumped my fist for the double play, and Nelson jumped me," Williams said before he left the ballpark.
Boston Police Department spokesperson Mariellen Burns said late Saturday night, "We will investigate the altercation and take appropriate action. No arrests have been made.
"We're looking for more detailed information and to interview all involved parties. Summonses may be issued." Burns did not identify any players by name.
Officials from both teams understandably were disappointed after Saturday's events.
Yankees team president Randy Levine, saying the incident was "unacceptable," called for the Red Sox to issue an apology to George Steinbrenner and the Yankees.
"It's so outrageous, it's beyond belief," Levine said. "If an employee of the New York Yankees ever went into the bullpen and hit a player, he would be fired and prosecuted if that was required. We would be on the phone, apologizing to that team's ownership. I expect Mr. Steinbrenner to get a call with an apology for today.''
"We are seriously investigating this because it seems to be an attack that was fully unwarranted," said Charles Steinberg, executive vice president of public affairs for the Red Sox. "Two Boston police officers, also stationed in the bullpen, observed (two players involved). We'll have their report. They (the players) have the opportunity to file a report as witnesses."
Steinberg said that the Red Sox were "distressed" about the whole situation.
"Paul Williams readily acknowledges he pumped his fist while facing the fans, not the Yankees, and did so with a hand that was holding a white towel. He did not intend it for the Yankees," Steinberg added. "It was for the fans. If that was in poor taste or judgment, it didn't warrant being attacked with a beating that has him now in Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.