What Happened to Joe Kelly Pitcher for the Red Sox?

Frank Jones

Updated on:

What Happened to Joe Kelly Pitcher for the Red Sox

Joe Kelly is a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox who gained notoriety for his role in a bench-clearing brawl with the New York Yankees in 2018. Kelly, who played for the Red Sox from 2016 to 2019, was known for his fiery personality and his ability to throw heat on the mound.

Despite his popularity with some fans, Kelly’s involvement in the brawl and subsequent suspension sparked controversy and criticism.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what happened to Joe Kelly during his time with the Red Sox, including the infamous brawl and his retirement from professional baseball.

The Bench-clearing Brawl With the Yankees

On April 11, 2018, the Boston Red Sox faced off against their long-time rivals, the New York Yankees, at Fenway Park. The game was intense from the beginning, with both teams exchanging hits and runs.

However, tensions began to escalate in the seventh inning when Yankees player Tyler Austin slid into Red Sox shortstop Brock Holt at second base. The slide was deemed by some to be a little too aggressive, and it caused Holt to take exception.

As the two players got up, they began to exchange words, and before long, the benches cleared. Joe Kelly, who was pitching for the Red Sox at the time, saw what was happening and rushed over to the scrum.

When he arrived, he threw a pitch that narrowly missed hitting Austin in the head. Austin took exception to the pitch and charged the mound, prompting Kelly to throw a punch at him.

The brawl lasted for several minutes and involved both teams’ players and coaching staff. By the time the dust had settled, several players were ejected from the game, including Kelly and Austin.

In the aftermath of the brawl, Major League Baseball handed down suspensions and fines to several players, including Kelly, who received a six-game suspension for his role in the altercation.

The incident was controversial, with some fans and analysts questioning whether Kelly’s pitch was intentional and whether his suspension was too harsh.

However, others argued that Kelly’s actions were dangerous and had no place in the sport. Regardless of where one falls on the issue, it’s clear that the brawl had a significant impact on Kelly’s reputation and his relationship with fans.

Fan Reactions to Kelly’s Return to Action

After serving his suspension, Joe Kelly returned to action with the Boston Red Sox. However, not all fans were happy to see him back on the field.

Some fans criticized Kelly for his role in the brawl and questioned his sportsmanship and professionalism. They believed that Kelly’s actions were dangerous and had no place in the sport.

One reason for the negative fan reaction may be the high stakes of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. The two teams have a long and contentious history, and any incident that occurs between them is likely to be magnified in the media and among fans.

Additionally, the incident occurred early in the season, when tensions between the two teams were already running high. As a result, the brawl may have been seen as an unnecessary escalation of an already intense situation.

Another factor that may have contributed to the negative fan reaction is Kelly’s reputation as a fiery and sometimes unpredictable player.

While some fans appreciate Kelly’s passion and energy, others view him as a liability and a potential danger to himself and others on the field. Kelly’s actions during the brawl may have reinforced these perceptions among some fans.

Despite the criticism, it’s worth noting that Kelly also had his share of supporters among Red Sox fans. Some fans appreciated his aggressive approach to the game and saw him as a valuable member of the team.

Others believed that the suspension he received was unfair and that he was being unfairly targeted by fans and the media.

Overall, the fan reaction to Kelly’s return to action was mixed, with some fans criticizing him for his role in the brawl and others supporting him despite the controversy.

Kelly’s Retirement From Professional Baseball

In December 2021, Joe Kelly announced his retirement from professional baseball. The decision came as a surprise to many fans and analysts, as Kelly was still in the prime of his career and had been a productive pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in recent seasons.

One possible reason for Kelly’s retirement may be a desire to spend more time with his family. Kelly has spoken in the past about the challenges of balancing his baseball career with his responsibilities as a husband and father, and it’s possible that he decided to retire in order to prioritize his family life.

Another factor that may have played a role in Kelly’s decision is his history of injuries. Over the course of his career, Kelly has dealt with a number of injuries, including a shoulder issue that sidelined him for much of the 2021 season.

It’s possible that Kelly decided to retire in order to avoid further injuries and to preserve his long-term health.

Finally, it’s worth considering the impact that the brawl with the Yankees may have had on Kelly’s decision. While it’s unclear how much the incident influenced his retirement, it’s possible that Kelly grew tired of the scrutiny and criticism that came with his role in the altercation.

Retirement may have allowed him to move on from the incident and to focus on other aspects of his life.

Regardless of the reasons behind his retirement, Joe Kelly leaves behind a legacy as a passionate and sometimes controversial player who was never afraid to express himself on the field.

While his time with the Boston Red Sox was marked by the brawl with the Yankees, he will also be remembered for his contributions to the team’s 2018 World Series championship.

Joe Kelly’s Career Highlights

SeasonTeamW-L RecordERAStrikeoutsAwards/Honors
2016Red Sox2-15.1821N/A
2017Red Sox4-12.7952N/A
2018Red Sox4-24.3968World Series Champion
Career 48-323.896341x World Series Champion

Note: W-L Record refers to Wins-Losses record, ERA refers to Earned Run Average, and N/A means that Kelly did not receive any awards or honors during that season.


How did Joe Kelly become a professional baseball player?

Joe Kelly was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 2009 MLB draft. He worked his way through the Cardinals’ minor league system before making his major league debut with the team in 2012.

What other teams did Joe Kelly play for besides the Boston Red Sox?

In addition to the Red Sox, Kelly also played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Angels during his career.

What was Joe Kelly’s signature pitch?

Joe Kelly was known for his high-velocity fastball, which regularly reached speeds of 98-100 mph. He also had a slider and a changeup in his pitching repertoire.

Did Joe Kelly ever win any awards or accolades during his career?

While Joe Kelly was never selected to an All-Star team or received any major awards during his career, he did play a key role in the Boston Red Sox’s 2018 World Series championship, and was a valuable member of several other successful teams throughout his career.

Will Joe Kelly be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

It’s impossible to predict whether Joe Kelly will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as that decision is ultimately up to the Hall of Fame’s voting committee. However, Kelly’s career statistics and accolades suggest that he is unlikely to be inducted.


Joe Kelly’s career was marked by both highs and lows, including his role in the brawl with the Yankees and his retirement from professional baseball.

While the incident with the Yankees may have tarnished his reputation among some fans, Kelly was also a talented pitcher who made significant contributions to the teams he played for throughout his career.

Ultimately, Kelly’s decision to retire underscores the challenges that athletes face in balancing their careers with their personal lives and their long-term health.

As fans, we can appreciate the passion and dedication that players like Kelly bring to the sport, while also recognizing the sacrifices and difficult decisions that come with a life in professional sports.

Leave a Comment