Never forget when Gerald Williams charged Pedro Martinez in all-time brawl


Perhaps it was pent-up energy from his New York Yankees days. Perhaps it was an attempt to put the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays on the map in the AL East. But when Gerald Williams was drilled by a Pedro Martinez fastball on the wrist to open an Aug. 2000 game at Tropicana Field, he changed baseball highlight reels forever by charging the mound and taking his revenge for getting unnecessarily buzzed up-and-in.

Williams, a Yankee from 1992 until midway through the 1996 season (then again in 2001 and 2002), joined a fledgling Tampa Bay club as a free agent following the 1999 season and found himself back in a divisional pressure cooker.

Raised in the Yankees system, Williams is often credited with leading Derek Jeter into major league stardom, taking his hand and serving as his guide through a difficult adjustment period.

Clearly, something about the Red Sox uniform still set him off on that August day when he found himself on the receiving end of a Pedro Martinez buzzball — or, perhaps, he just felt he’d been hit in the most inopportune spot possible, and wanted to enact some immediate revenge.

Williams, after being struck on the wrist, took a few steps toward first base before making the opposite “business decision” from what we’re used to. He went for it, sprinting to Martinez on the mound to wake up a divisional battle just a few minutes after it had begun.

By the end of the brawl, Williams was trolling the outside of the scrum, fending off Red Sox coach Jim Rice’s advice. Martinez was shaking out his right arm, seemingly thrown after being clocked directly in the jaw. Boston first baseman Brian Daubach was battling an apparent serious injury after being thrown from the pile. We were in a memorable revenge moment.

Former Yankees outfielder Gerald Williams’ Pedro Martinez brawl was amazing.

Of course, uh, Martinez got the last laugh, as he usually seemed to.

The Devil Rays, entering the game, hadn’t lost to Martinez in three previous tries that season. Following Williams’ ejection, along with seven other Tampa Bay notables getting tossed, the Sox ace threw a one-hitter, winning 8-0.

Luckily, the next memorable Martinez brawl didn’t turn out quite as well for the firebrand ace. When he pointed to his skull in Jorge Posada’s direction in the 2003 ALCS, then torpedoed coach Don Zimmer to the turf by the head, it turned out Martinez was actually igniting a sequence of events that resulted in him being overcooked on the mound in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.

Williams, forever a True Yankee for what he did for Jeter and in the years beyond his debut, was surely proud of that effort.

Tragically, he passed away on Tuesday following a battle with cancer, and will always be remembered by his teammates for the tenacity he displayed in this famous clash, as well as his insight and tender care in quieter moments.