Mike Piazza’s most famous beef is probably the occasionally explosive feud he had with Roger Clemens. But his beef with another pitcher — Pedro Martinez — ran deeper, lasted longer, and didn’t lack for violence.
Piazza came up in the late ‘80s alongside Pedro and his brother Ramon Martinez at the Los Angeles’ Dodgers training camp in the Dominican Republic, Campo Las Palmas. The Martinez brothers were Dominican pitching prospects. Piazza was a rich American kid whose father convinced his friend, LA manager Tommy Lasorda, to give the unheralded Mike a shot. Lasorda would only accept Piazza as a catcher, so he became the only American camper at Las Palmas in hopes of learning to catch.
The Martinez brothers might quibble about whether Piazza ever truly learned to catch, but the kid developed remarkably into a Hall of Fame-caliber hitter, and along the way, made some enemies.
Ramon didn’t like Piazza’ catching. Pedro didn’t Piazza because Ramon didn’t like him ... and because Piazza sneered at the big contract Pedro got with the Red Sox. Some coincidental timing led Pedro to deliberately hit Piazza in the hand with a pitch, and the beef grew from there, eventually ending when the two became teammates.
To fully understand this beef, watch the full BEEF HISTORY episode above, and check out more episodes in our playlist.