The hatred between the two had been brewing for a while until it finally boiled over on Aug. 1, 1973.
The Yankees and Red Sox squared off in Boston in 1973, but that year the rivalry drew punches and it became one of the most memorable brawls in baseball history. It also set the stage up for another unforgetable fight in 1976.
The fight is recounted by the players who lived it in 14 Back — SI's new documentary about the Yankees’ comeback from that deficit to the Red Sox in the standings late in the summer of 1978.
The teams' catchers, New York's Thurman Munson and Boston's Carlton Fisk, started the meelee that helped revitalize the two sides conflict.
Munson was the gruff Yankees captain who felt overlooked. Fisk was the clean-shaven young star embraced by the media. The hatred between the two had been brewing for a while until it finally boiled over on Aug. 1, 1973.
In the ninth inning of a tied 2–2 game, Munson was on third, while Fisk was behind the plate for the Sox. Gene Michael was up to bat for the Yankees and went for the suicide squeeze. Munson took off with the pitch, but Michael whiffed it. However, Munson kept running home as Michael stood in the way of the plate until Fisk moved him. Soon the two collided and while Munson was called out, the action at the plate was far from over.
The benches and bullpens cleared and the fight kept going.
Eventually, Michael jumped in to the fight.
"Michael kind of scratched and clawed, and it looked like two hookers fighting on 45th street more or less," Red Sox ace Bill "Spaceman" Lee said. "I said, 'Yeah, I hit him with my purse,' and Michael took exception to that cause it wasn't his purse."
"Lee said the Yankees fight like a bunch of Times Square hookers, and I said, 'I'll remember that,'" Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles said with a laugh.
Then in 1976, another brawl broke out at Yankee Stadium when Yankee Lou Pinenlla punched Fisk after heading home on a single. This started another fight that lasted even longer and ended with Lee's arm getting hurt off a Nettles' punch before the two fought another round.
"I remember what he said a few years earlier about how we fight like Times Square hookers," Nettles said. "I just wanted to let him know we had some tough hookers in those days in Times Square."
And Lee revealed he still isn't over it.
"I'm the last horse, because I've got Nettles' baseball card right here in my wallet," Lee said, pulling out the worn card. "Nettles' baseball card is right there in my wallet. He's up against the right cheek of my ass for eternity, and the smell and the view never improve for him."
The film will be released on SI TV on Sept. 20.