Since the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Kelly from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014, he has not been taken in by the fans as much as he would have liked. Now in the year 2018, with back to back division titles, and the best start in franchise history, Joe Kelly is making a name for himself. No, it’s not because he is pitching decent this year with 11 strike outs in 11 and two-thirds innings, nor the fact that he notched his first career save on April 1st against Tampa Bay. He has become a fan favorite for being Joey Fisticuffs (per Jared Carabis, Barstool Sports).
The Red Sox – Yankee rivalry has not been all that much of a rivalry in the past few years. This year with the acquisitions each team made in the off season, the rivalry looked to be back. Then when the teams met for the first time this year the Red Sox took it to the Yankees 14-1. On the very next day, the rivalry jumped back in time so to speak. After Tyler Austin tried to break up a double play with a hard slide into Red Sox second baseman, Brock Holt, the benches cleared and the bullpens spilled onto the field with nothing more than jawing between players happening. Fast forward a few innings later, Joe Kelly comes out of the bullpen and in steps Tyler Austin. After starting the at bat pitching to Austin with a slider over the heart of the plate, Kelly came inside with a fastball nearly hitting Austin in the hip, he followed that up with a slider low and out of the zone. Then it all began. Kelly ran a 98mph fastball in and hit Austin in the elbow initiating the brawl.
As a Red Sox fan, in that moment I gained all the respect in the world for Joe Kelly. Not only did he do his job to protect his teammate, he did not back down to Tyler Austin. He even tossed his glove to the side and called him out as Austin was charging. Fists up, benches cleared, bullpens empty, rivalry back on. Joe Kelly, earned the nickname Joey Fisticuffs in that moment and earned the respect of Red Sox fans all over.
Joe Kelly did not even stop there. While attending a Boston Bruins game at TD Garden, a clip of the fight played on the jumbo-tron and the camera panned to Kelly, with the crowd giving him a standing ovation.
Kelly embraced this new found fandom even further by attending Saturday’s game in the bleachers.
I met Joe Kelly over the winter and this is such a Joe Kelly move. I absolutely love it. What better way to keep up your good graces with Boston fans, some of the most relentless and ruthless fans in baseball, than sitting with them in the bleachers.
When I met Joe, I was at the Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Casino. It was a little after 1 A.M. I walked into the smallest casino floor and right up to a Blackjack table. I go to sit down and look to my left and there’s Joe, sitting at a $1 table. I was shocked, but I had to introduce myself. How often does one get the chance to talk to a player on their favorite team. Long story short, I had a nice conversation with him and turns out the entire team was upstairs in a private poker room, but Joe wanted to hang out with us common folk.
Joe Kelly has worked his way into the hearts of many Boston fans over the last few months, and personally I have become a huge fan after all that has transpired. Here’s to Joe Kelly, Joey Fisticuffs, the Boston Brawler.