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Happy Anniversary: Epic Yankees-Red Sox brawl in 1976

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Just Because: Bill Lee vs. the Yankees

It was May 20, 1976 when the Yankees and Red Sox threw down in epic fashion in Yankee Stadium. It all started when Lou Piniella was thrown out at home plate -- to keep the Red Sox down just a run, 1-0 -- to end the sixth inning. Boston catcher Carlton Fisk took exception to how Piniella bowled over him and it was, immediately, on:

If you stopped watching before the one-minute mark because it was a bunch of standing around, take note that things start back up in earnest around the 1:15 mark.

Red Sox starting pitcher Bill Lee has just spun six strong innings, but had to leave the game with a separated shoulder -- as has been noted in this space before, Lee's relationship with the Yankeees over the years was well-documented. In fact, this brawl could have been traced back to a previous brawl between Fisk and Thurman Munson, after which Lee said the Yankees were "like a bunch of hookers swinging their purses." (via Associated Press archives)

Lee wouldn't pitch again until July 15 and was unable to rejoin the rotation until September. He later told reporters he lost 10 miles per hour off his fastball and shouldn't have pitched for the next season or two.

The Red Sox almost immediately responded, taking a 2-1 lead on a two-run Rick Burleson homer with one out in the top of the seventh. The Yankees would tie in the bottom of the seventh before a two-run Carl Yastrzemski homer in the top of the eighth.

Boston would then run the lead all the way to 8-2 in the top of the ninth with help from Fred Lynn, Fisk -- who somehow was not ejected for punching Piniella -- and Yaz, again.

The Yankees would go on to win the pennant but lose in a sweep to the Reds in the World Series. The Red Sox finished 83-79.

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