October 12, 2003

2 Yanks May Face Charges in Fenway Fight

Boston police are investigating a fight between two Yankees and a Fenway Park worker who was cheering for the Red Sox in the New York bullpen during the AL championship series Saturday night.

The Yankees' 4-3 win over the Red Sox, to take a 2-1 series lead, had already been marred by brushbacks and brawls. Before the ninth-inning bullpen incident, Boston ace Pedro Martinez threw Don Zimmer to the ground as the 72-year-old Yankees coach prepared to throw a punch.

Assault charges could be filed against Yankees players Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia, police spokeswoman Mariellen Burns said, but she backed off earlier police statements that charges will be filed.

"Summons may be issued," she said, "but we're looking for more detailed information before that happens."

Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg said Paul Williams, who works for the grounds crew, contended Nelson and Garcia attacked him.

"The Red Sox are terribly concerned and distressed about the attack on our employee tonight," he said.

The Yankees denied the players were to blame.

"A security incident like this would never be tolerated at Yankee Stadium," president Randy Levine told The Associated Press. "Unfortunately, there was an atmosphere of lawlessness that was allowed to be perpetrated all day long. The events of the entire day were disgraceful and shameful, and if it happened at our ballpark, we would apologize, and that's what the Red Sox should do here."

With tempers already high following a bench-clearing melee earlier in the game, Nelson was annoyed that Williams was cheering for the Red Sox while he was in the New York bullpen, and he told Williams so.

"He was standing in our bullpen waving the rally flag," the reliever said. "I told him, 'If you're rooting for the Red Sox, why don't you go in their bullpen.' He jumped in my face and tried to take a swing at me."

Williams acknowledged pumping his fist twice while holding a white towel after the Red Sox turned a double play in the ninth inning, Steinberg said.

"If that was in poor taste, or poor judgment, it certainly didn't warrant a beating," Steinberg said.

Williams had cleat marks on his back and his arm, and he may have been kicked in the mouth, Steinberg said.

Williams was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and hospital spokeswoman Bonnie Prescott said Williams was discharged early Sunday after undergoing tests in the emergency room. She released no details on any injuries.

The Red Sox also said that two police officers in the bullpen backed Williams' story.

After Nelson confronted Williams, several Yankees surrounded him. Garcia, the right fielder, jumped over the fence and hurt his left hand. He was removed from the game before the bottom of the ninth and was taken to the training room with the hand wrapped.