On April 16, 2007, one of the most famous fan incidents in the history of Fenway Park occurred. During a typical mid-April baseball game, what became known as “The Pizza Incident” took place in the stands of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.
The Red Sox were playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the annual Patriots’ Day and Marathon Monday day game. Red Sox batter J.D. Drew was facing Angels pitcher Scot Shields with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning on this wet and rainy day. With a 2-2 count, Drew popped up a ball along the left field line, slicing into foul territory.
Angels left fielder Garret Anderson began making a chase for the fly ball. He reached in to the stands to try and make the catch, but Red Sox fan Jason Sole made an attempt of his own, preventing Anderson from getting to the foul ball and continuing the at bat for Drew.
Upon replay, it was shown that numerous beers were spilled in the attempt by the fans for the foul ball, which is typical at any MLB ballpark across the country. There was one piece of the replay that wasn’t expected: Flying at Sole’s head shortly after his attempt for the foul ball was a full slice of pizza. The piece slammed into Sole’s right shoulder and part of his neck before ricocheting into the seat in front of him. Words were exchanged between Sole and the thrower, with the pizza thrower eventually being escorted out of the ballpark.
For the rest of the seventh inning and the top of the eighth, Red Sox television announcers Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy investigated the situation, replaying it along with providing commentary and laughs (with Orsillo not even able to form words at one point due to his attempt to suppress the laughter). Those watching couldn’t help but join with them in the hysterics:
The Red Sox would win the game, 7-2.
The next day, John Tomase, then a reporter for the Boston Herald, found out the pizza thrower was a man named Danny Kelly, and Tomase was able to track him down for an interview. Kelly told Tomase that he went to the game with his buddy, Matt Madore, that day. According to Kelly and Madore, Sole was giving the two of them grief for bringing a whole pizza into their section of seats. However, as claimed by Sole, all he did was ask from which pizzeria they bought the pizza. Either way, animosity had formed between the two parties over the course of the game.
With Sole distracted by the foul ball, Kelly took the opportunity to chuck a slice at him. “Next thing I know, there’s a fly ball to left field and it goes foul and my buddy says, ‘You want some pizza now?’ And he hits him right in the face,” Madore told the Boston Herald about Kelly’s famous hurl. “Hey, the guy wasn’t paying attention. When you’re in the stands you’ve got to be ready for anything – a foul ball, a flying slice of pizza, everything.”
Despite agreeing with Madore, Kelly also expressed regret for the situation. “It was just a stupid thing,” he said. “It’s not something to be proud of. It was just stupidity all around.”
Due in part to Orsillo and Remy’s obsession with the moment, “The Pizza Incident” became part of Red Sox fan folklore. The incident was replayed an uncountable amount of times over the course of the 2007 season. It still gets regular airtime on NESN, the broadcasting network that airs Red Sox games. It has even grown popular outside of Boston, as proven when the moment made it onto the MLB Network’s countdown of the top 50 fan moments of all time.
As the legend of the pizza throw grew through the years, one question started arising: What became of the pizza thrower?
Over six years later, there was an answer. On September 3, 2013, Kelly made his triumphant return to Fenway Park as Boston took on the Detroit Tigers. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Red Sox sideline reporter Jenny Dell interviewed him, and he was able to give his first public statements on the situation since his interview with the Boston Herald:
In recent years, a following has formed for both the moment and Danny “The Pizza Chucker” Kelly, himself. Kelly has his own Facebook fan page, claimed to be run by a friend of his. Annually, countless Boston news outlets celebrate when the anniversary of the incident comes up by writing articles and showing clips to commemorate the moment.
Over the years, Fenway Park has had its share of memorable moments, from Carlton Fisk waving his World Series home run fair in 1975 to Roger Clemens striking out 20 batters in 1986 to Pedro Martinez striking out five of the first six batters in the 1999 All Star Game. Yet, to many fans, “The Pizza Incident” of 2007 will forever have a spot as one of the most memorable moments at the home of the Green Monster.
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