Red Sox Brawls: The Joe Kelly Fight Club

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Joe Kelly looked at home plate and Yankees infielder Tyler Austin and yelled, “Let’s Go!”  Kelly drilled the Yankees infielder in the back on April 11th, 2018 in retaliation for Tyler sliding spikes up and taking out infielder Brock Holt in the third inning of the game.

Photo courtesy of nj.com
Once Austin was hit by the Kelly pitch, he slammed his bat down and gestured to Kelly to square up on the mound.  Kelly yelled “Let’s Go”, and the two began to throw hands.  Kelly would land his blows and immediately achieve legend status in New England.

The benches cleared and the two teams tried to break up the melee between Kelly and Austin.  Kelly hit Austin a few times and he was left with a fat lip from the fight.  Austin would connect with Sox third baseman Carlos Febles on a punch as well.

There were multiple ejections from the brawl.  Kelly and Austin were both suspended for the fight, both players would go on to appeal their suspensions.  Multiple players and coaches were fined; Alex Cora, Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, former Yankees starter CC Sabathia and Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Marco Hernandez and Dustin Pedroia.




Kelly’s suspension was upheld by Major League Baseball while Austin saw his get reduced by a game.

MLB Sweatshirts at Fanatics.comAustin would go onto say after the game that he had no interest in ever talking to Kelly.  Austin said that he had no hard feelings toward Kelly, but he didn't want to talk to him to clear the air.  Austin said there was “no chance” he would chat with Kelly.

With one fight, with a few punches and the New York Yankees being involved, the ‘Joe Kelly Fight Club’ would be born.

Sully’s Brand would go on to quickly make the “Joe Kelly Fight Club” t-shirts that fans would wear in support of Kelly.  In fact, J.D. Martinez would go onto wear one too.

Fast forward to last season, Kelly and Austin faced off once again, both players playing for different teams.  Kelly, who was now with the Dodgers pitched the ninth of a 9-2 game.  The Dodgers were playing the Giants and Kelly was trying to close the door on the Giants.  Kelly would need only four pitches to strike out Austin.  Kelly pumped a few 99 MPH fastballs past Austin and later got him to K by throwing a curve down in the dirt.

Whether he’s wearing Dodger blue or not, Red Sox fans will still appreciate Kelly blowing heat past Austin.

Back to the fight at hand - by drilling Austin and standing up for his teammate, Red Sox fans finally embraced Kelly.  Kelly was always a witty and funny dude even dating back to his days with the Cardinals.  Back in 2014, Kelly and then Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke would have a pregame stare down before Game 6 of the NLCS.  Both players stared each other down for 12 minutes.  It delayed the start of the game and both players refused to budge.  In fact, the umpire threatened to eject the two players before the start of the game.  Kelly taking a step toward the dugout first and Van Slyke, wearing a batting helmet, thrusting his hands in the air in triumph.  It would be the only victory for Van Slyke and the Dodgers that day.

Who can forget Kelly’s disguise of Jim Buchanan?  His character Buchanan was from JWK Punta Gorda and he would be a presence at Spring Training knocking over bats, calling David Ortiz “Big Poopi” and Dustin Pedroia “Coach”.  His personality didn’t supersede the game, but he brought something different to Boston and his teammates loved him.

Kelly has a quirky and fun personality, but more importantly, he is a great teammate, and that was evident by drilling Austin.

In 2018, Kelly was pitching lights out for the Red Sox at the point, considering he started the year terribly.  At that point in the season, Kelly was going into the Yankees series with a 2.51 ERA and 0.77 WHIP.  He hurled 14 consecutive scoreless innings, striking out 15 and walking only one.

Then manager Alex Cora said that, “"It seems like also he's pitching with an edge," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said "I don't know if it's the whole thing that happened against New York."

The Joe Kelly buzz would continue beyond Fenway Park.  “Joe Kelly Fight Club” shirts would show up all over Boston.

The Yankees went on to to win that game 10-7, but in the long term it was a win for Boston.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Red Sox Brawls: The Joe Kelly Fight Club
Red Sox Brawls: The Joe Kelly Fight Club
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