- [Narrator] Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez
were teammates to start their pro careers
and ended up teammates again near the end.
In between, they had beef.
Messy, public, slightly violent beef.
And it wasn't just the two of them.
- In the late '80s, the Los Angeles Dodgers
opened MLB's first ever academy
in the Dominican Republic: Campo Las Palmas.
There they developed their prized Dominican
pitching prospect, a teenager named Ramon Martinez
as well as a large roster of campers
that included his younger, shorter,
and less heralded brother, Pedro,
and, oddly, an American kid.
That was Mike Piazza whose multimillionaire father
had called in favors from his old friend,
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to get his unscouted son
picked in the sixty-second round of the MLB draft.
A stipulation of Piazza's LA contract
was that he learned to play catcher,
and that's what he tried to do
at Las Palmas despite not fitting in.
- [Piazza] I didn't speak any Spanish,
all the kids were all Latin.
- [Narrator] He caught for pitchers like
the Martinez brothers for six weeks
until he claimed he had food poisoning,
went home for Christmas, and didn't return.
If you've ever been to summer camp before,
you've met that kid, or you've been that kid.
Ramon Martinez soon became a star in the majors
while the younger Pedro and Piazza
rose up through the minors.
By 1993, Pedro had joined Ramon
on the Dodger pitching staff, albeit in a lesser role,
and Piazza was their catcher.
His catching was by all accounts, including this one
from Pedro's autobiography, pretty bad.
But Piazza was such a powerful hitter that it didn't matter.
After the '93 season, the Dodgers traded Pedro
to Montreal for Delino Deshields.
Bad, bad trade.
While Pedro blossomed as a starter for the Expos,
Ramon and Piazza remained a battery in LA.
Ramon complained some about his catcher's defense,
but Piazza hit brilliantly enough
to become a perennial all-star.
In '94, when Pedro faced his old team
for the first time, Piazza homered off him.
In '95, Ramon pitched his only career no-hitter,
and Piazza caught it.
In July '96, Piazza caught Pedro for the sixth inning
of their first all-star game together.
A month later, Ramon and Pedro did something
the extremely close brothers had always dreaded:
pitch against one another.
Ramon got the 2-1 victory thanks to
back-to-back homers from Piazza and Eric Karros.
Pedro had, by this point, far surpassed his older brother.
And before the 1998 season, he signed a six-year,
75 million dollar deal with the Boston Red Sox.
The biggest contract in MLB history, but not for long.
The beef's almost ready to come out of the oven.
Can you smell it?
So, March of 1998 was a weird, moody time
for Mike Piazza and the Dodgers.
Piazza was entering the final year of his contract
and expecting a huge extension
that the Dodgers kept putting off.
In fact, he was eyeing the biggest deal in baseball history.
Pedro Martinez, who came to visit Ramon
at spring training, heard rumors that Piazza
said the following about Pedro's record-setting deal.
"If that little s**t got all that money,
what would they have to pay me?"
Meanwhile, Ramon got into a heated war
with the New York Mets.
He hit a couple Mets batters
in a Florida spring-training game,
and New York pitcher Brain Bohannon retaliated
by plunking him right back.
Dodgers manager Bill Russell pledged that Martinez
would not forget this which read like a warning,
but a rotator cuff injury ended Ramon's season
just a few months later.
His career took a downturn just before
he had an opportunity to face the Mets again.
Any revenge would have to come by proxy, and it did.
By the time the regular season started, Piazza
and the Dodgers still hadn't figured out an extension.
He got booed a bit at home then called off
contract negotiations entirely.
A month later, the Dodgers traded
their disgruntled star to the Marlins.
Ramon bid him farewell with a final
passive-aggressive remark about his catching.
The Marlins had no intention of keeping Piazza.
After a week in Florida, Piazza had been
traded again to the Mets, who just a few days later,
had inter-league play scheduled against Pedro's Red Sox.
Pedro had by this point developed a bit of a reputation
for throwing inside and provoking conflict.
And on June 5th, 1998, Pedro Martinez stared down
from the mound at Mike Piazza.
There was one out in the first and a runner on second.
This Mets team had wronged his brother.
This hitter at the plate wasn't on great terms
with Ramon either and had bad-mouthed
Pedro's contract, so he hit him, right in the hand.
Not hard enough to break the hand,
but Piazza was hurt to the point
that he had to leave the game.
Pedro now freely admits the beating was intentional.
"I hated walking batters and
"was not going to waste one on Piazza.
"There just had to be a better way to get
"that little s**t to first base.
I uncorked a fastball that hit his left hand."
But at the time, Pedro played innocent
and blamed Piazza, no friend of his,
for diving at a pitch inside.
But Piazza and Mets manager Bobby Valentine
both insinuated Martinez had meant to do it.
Martinez, who, again, did mean to do it,
whether or not he was saying so, went off.
Piazza responded with a public shot
at Martinez's record contract,
and Martinez came right back at Piazza's rich upbringing.
Speaking of money and contracts, Piazza did indeed break
Martinez's salary record in October of '98.
The Mets came through with the extension he'd wanted,
$91 million over seven years.
But, separated by AL and NL,
there was hardly more opportunity
for Piazza and Martinez to clash physically.
Pedro faced Piazza just once more
as a Red Sock, and it was an uneventful occasion
mostly noteworthy because both men
were returning from injury.
Piazza's injury, by the way, was the concussion
he suffered when Rogers Clemens beaned him in the head.
And Clemens got another shot at him, too,
without any retaliation.
Piazza wasn't done getting plunked, though.
Another Dominican Dodgers pitcher,
Guillermo Mota, drilled him in the back
during a spring training game in March of '02.
Piazza left the game but waited
in the dugout for Mota to walk by,
then grabbed him and got to shoving.
One year later, Mota did it again,
and this time, Piazza went ballistic,
dropped his bat and helmet,
and chased Mota off the mound, igniting a brawl.
He then went looking for Mota
in the Dodgers clubhouse after the game.
After watching Piazza war with his countryman,
Pedro couldn't resist throwing darts.
Then, a year and a half later, this happened.
Both players vowed to put the bad blood behind them.
Martinez said they were family now.
Piazza said he'd be Pedro's number one supporter,
and once again, they were a tandem,
albeit with diminishing frequency and productivity.
They'd separate again, but the beef didn't return,
unless you count Piazza homering twice off Pedro
in their last ever meeting.
And they'd retire maybe not as friends,
but at least on friendly terms.
In his 2016 Hall of Fame induction speech,
Piazza gave a shout-out to Pedro
who had been inducted the year prior.
- Tommy then sent me down to the Dominican
camp of the Dodgers Campos Las Palmas
in the Dominican Republic to pick up
valuable experience and communicate
with Spanish-speaking pitchers.
One happens to be here behind me, Pedro Martinez.
- That said, both Hall of Fame-ers wrote memoirs
after they retired, and both shed light on the beef.
That goofy Spanish you just heard Piazza speaking
is interesting in the context of his book.
He argues that MLB shouldn't cater
to Spanish-speaking players with interpreters
and other special considerations.
That the onus isn't on American players
to learn Spanish, it's on the Latin players
to learn English.
This clearly ties into another Piazza assertion
that during his career there was some kind of
weird Hispanic conspiracy against him,
almost like a secret brotherhood,
a Latin mafia type of thing.
Pedro's book doesn't talk about
any conspiracy against Piazza,
he just mentions repeatedly that
Piazza was a mediocre defensive catcher
which caused the initial problems between him and Ramon,
something Piazza acknowledges in his own book.
Martinez kinda insinuates Piazza may have been
a steroid user, but also reflects on
how hard a worker he was back at Las Palmas.
Piazza says Martinez was a "little prick"
when he joined the Dodgers,
but says he'd give him a hug now if he saw him.
And I think all of the above combined
in the right proportions at exactly
the right time made this beef happen.
Mike Piazza was the rich American kid
at the camp the Martinez brothers attended
in their home country.
He was the young hot shot whose catching frustrated Ramon
and who supposedly belittled Pedro
in pursuit of a record-breaking contract.
Pedro was an extremely loyal little brother
who didn't forget a grudge and had no qualms
about attacking his rivals, on the mound or off it.
They were fellow campers, then pro-teammates,
then opponents at a crucial juncture,
and through it all, these two Hall of Fame-ers
built a messy far-ranging web of beef, a beef web.