Happy Anniversary, Fenway Pizza Incident
If Fenway Park is a baseball cathedral, it’s only because it’s been consecrated by a long list of indelible moments: Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair, Jason Varitek shoving his catcher’s mitt down A-Rod’s throat, Pedro Martinez dominating the Steroid Era’s biggest stars at the 1999 All-Star Game, and of course, a guy from Brookline getting beaned by a slice of pizza.
On April 16, 2007, the Sox hosted the Los Angeles Angels for a Patriots’ Day matinee, with Josh “My off-day’s my off-day” Beckett on the mound. Varitek and Kevin Youkilis were still in the lineup, as was media darling Manny Ramirez, and we had yet to run our first Drew brother out of town. In the bottom of the seventh, J.D. Drew sent a foul ball sailing toward left field.
Jason Sole, then 30, had allegedly given Matt Madore and Danny Kelly grief over bringing an entire box of pizza into Box 82 prior to Drew’s at-bat. As Sole tracked the foul ball and Angels left-fielder Garrett Anderson gave pursuit, Kelly hurled a slice, connecting with Sole’s shoulder.
“Next thing I know, there’s a fly ball to left field and it goes foul and my buddy says, ‘You want some pizza now?’ And he hits him right in the face,” Madore told the Boston Herald the next day. “Hey, the guy wasn’t paying attention. When you’re in the stands you’ve got to be ready for anything—a foul ball, a flying slice of pizza, everything.”
Kelly, clad in a blue Patriots windbreaker, was tossed, as was Madore. The Sox won, 7-4.
The true brilliance of the Pizza Incident, or Pizzagate, lay in NESN broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy’s commentary, which—as evidenced in the compilation above—devolves into total silliness as the game wears on.
Jenny Dell caught up with Kelly in 2013, finally bringing the story some closure.