Remembering Coco Crisp-James Shields brawl ahead of first Red Sox vs Rays tilt of '24

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Elsa/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox are set to face off against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays from May 13-16. As we look forward to the first meeting of the two American League East clubs in 2024, let's also look back to a key moment in their rivalry — June 5, 2008.

Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp stood in the batter's box. He stared down Rays righty James Shields in the second inning of the bout.

Shields released a pitch and it hit Crisp squarely in the right hip. Crisp turned slowly, and it looked like he was about to take his free pass to first. Instead, he threw his bat and dropped his helmet to the ground as he charged the mound.

Crisp expertly dodged the first attempted haymaker thrown by Shields. He countered and landed a quick punch on the hurler before he was swiftly tackled by catcher Dioner Navarro and future Red Sox slugger Jonny Gomes.

Rays vs Red Sox rivalry history: Coco Crisp and James Shields confrontation leads to bases clearing brawl in 2008

The benches cleared and the rivals were embroiled in a benches-clearing brawl. Gomes landed a few blows on Crisp before the great Don Orsillo christened the battle, "Fight Night at Fenway Park."

Crisp, Shields and Gomes were ejected after the melee in just the second inning. The tensions were high due to a smaller confrontation from the previous night's contest — Crisp was accused of intentionally sliding into second baseman Akinori Iwamura by then-Rays manager Joe Maddon. Crisp claimed Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett blocked the bag while he was trying to steal two innings prior and that he injured his hand while colliding with Bartlett during the incident.

The scuffle is one of many between the Red Sox and Rays organizations. From prior benches-clearing scrums to dozens of intentionally hit batters, the rivalry between the clubs has been palpable since Tampa Bay joined the league in 1998.

The teams have similar records a quarter of the way through the 2024 season. The Red Sox sit at 21-19 and the Rays at 20-21. It's a tight race in the AL East, and this series has the potential to create more heated moments. Hopefully, none of them result in ejections ... for the Red Sox.

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