The 2000 World Series between the Yankees and Mets is memorable for myriad reasons, but especially for the infamous incident between Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza.
To recap, Clemens hurled a jagged bat barrel toward Piazza after shattering the Mets catcher’s bat in the first inning of Game 2. Tempers flared and benches cleared before cooler heads prevailed. But the incident resonated more than it might have otherwise, considering that the Yankees pitcher had hit Piazza in the head with a pitch months earlier during the regular season.
Now, on the eve of this year’s Subway Series, former Yankees manager Joe Torre revealed that an emotional Clemens cried in the clubhouse shortly after the incident.
Speaking Monday during an episode of SNY’s Like We Never Left, Torre said Clemens left the field in the middle of the first inning to visit pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who was watching the game from a clubhouse office because he was recovering from cancer treatment.
“After that half inning, Roger went into the office to see Mel,” Torre recounted. “And Mel told me, I wasn’t in there, but Mel told me that he was crying on what had just transpired.”
Torre’s account of the aftermath of the incident makes it seem as if Clemens regretted what had just happened. On the field moments earlier, Clemens said he initially thought he was throwing the ball instead of the barrel, which had bounced into his hand in front of the pitching mound. Of course, that doesn’t explain why Clemens fired the bat in the vicinity of Piazza, who was running up the baseline, and not to first base.
Regardless, Clemens was visibly charged up by the scene.
“You know, pitchers who have all that passion, it leaks out all over the place,” Torre said. “But that’s what Mel told me, that he went in there, and he was devastated at the result of what had happened and that he was crying.”
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The Yankees centerfielder at the time, Bernie Williams, expressed surprise during the same interview at hearing the news from Torre.
“That’s news to me,” Williams said. “I didn’t know that.”
Interestingly, Torre said he thinks the whole scenario would’ve been avoided if Piazza had known that the ball was foul and went into the Yankees dugout. Instead, Piazza proceeded up the line toward first base and into Clemens’s line of fire.
“I think if Mike had known where the ball was, he probably wouldn’t have run,” Torre said. “The ball was foul, but he didn’t know where it was.”
Clemens later was fined $50,000 by MLB for the incident.
The Yankees would up winning Game 2, 6–5, and the series in five games.
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