Legend of the Fenway Pizza Chucker

WHICH DAY THE SECURITY GUARDS ARRIVED?The man and his wife were relieved to be able to expel them. They silently hustled up and down the stairs, leaving Fenway Park in that 2007 day. Perhaps, just maybe, no one would ever find out the identity of the perpetrator.

Dan Kelly had done something very stupid, but it was also extremely funny. It has been viral for 15 consecutive years every Patriots' Day. Boston sports fans love it like Paul Revere.

Both Kellys were horrified that anyone would be able identify them. They might have a few laughs later with close friends, but they were determined to get out of there and remain anonymous. Kelly, after a decade and a half of infamy, laughs as he recalls the foolishness of trying to make a clean escape.

Kelly's wife Selina, a Boston high school teacher, didn't recognize Kelly. Kelly had just started a new position where he believes he was hired partly because he appeared so grown up. He was unable to express his true self during a long interview process for the position as a medical supplies sales rep.

Dan Kelly was the bottled up version of himself. He needed the job. Kelly was an engineer but didn't like it as a career so he switched to sales. Kelly enjoyed speaking to people and was always open to hearing their stories. Kelly believed that once he was hired, he would be able to relax and use his more playful side to sell prosthetics to doctors and other medical products.

Kelly is more straight-laced than Kelly's wife, but Kelly and his wife are a great match. He drags her 10% into the ridiculous side of life, and he needs his wife to teach him when to quit screwing around.

It works well for them. Their back-and forths create a little spark of electricity between them. Kelly got an email confirmation that Kelly and his wife had been accepted into an Irish social club in Boston.

However, before she arrived home, he corrected the letter to indicate that he had accepted and that she would be permitted to attend only two gatherings per calendar year provided she was escorted by an official member. Dan Kelly. She was furious and called the person at the social club to complain… only for Dan to call back later with his Microsoft Word hijinks. Kelly states, “She should have divorced” Kelly. We had a great laugh about it.

They feel exactly the same way now as they did in 2007, when they fled Fenway. It only took a few more years for them to realize that Dan Kelly was responsible the greatest pizza throw in the history of mankind.

UPDATED MARCH 16, 2007Kelly and his crew, his wife and six or five other friends, had planned where they would be pregame before heading over to the Red Sox/Angels game. Boston bars are granted a special opening time for Patriots Day. The lights turn on only when Dan Kelly and other people line up outside.

The bars usually close an hour before the game starts. This is because thousands of fans flock to Fenway at 10:05 or 11:05 am to watch their favorite team. However, in 2007, the rain started to fall and the tarp was covering the field. The majority of fans stayed out and downed pints and shots for an additional hour during the rain delay which lasted over two hours.

The grounds crew got the field ready around 11:45 AM and players began to move out of the clubhouse. Kelly and his group paid the bar tab of $600 and set off for the stadium. They all had scattered seats around the stadium, but with about 30% of the crowd no-showing because of the rain, Kelly & Co. eventually settled into empty seats a half-hour later, about 10 rows back from the left-field line. Kelly noticed that the crowd seemed more energetic than usual, and was especially happy and fuzzy.

At 12:18 p.m. Boston starter Josh Beckett pitched the first pitch. By 1 p.m. the Sox had won 6-1. Beckett was pitching, so it was cold and wet. All those warm and fuzzy fans began to feel bored and hungry after a certain Sox win.

Kelly's group began bickering with a Sox fan group 20 feet away, as Boston led the game into the middle innings. Kelly refers to that group as “boisterous” and it should also be noted that it sounded quite boisterous.

Kelly and Matt Madore went to the pub in the sixth inning.

Madore took the cake on his way up and fell on the steps. Madore claims that Madore, who was part of a group laughing at Madore for being drunk, pushed himself off the steps to continue his journey.

Kelly assured them that they would get them, as they reached the top.

Kelly asked for four slices at the concession stand and was told by the cashier that she had a new deal this season where you could just get an entire pizza for $4.

Madore had won a March Madness pool when he picked Florida to win the 2007 NCAA Tournament. He also received his $800 in cash that day. He basically lit money on fire throughout the day. He bought six beers, a whole pizza and paid $96 for it all himself.

The pizza box was lugged back to their seats and the rival group demanded a slice. Security was threatened with contacting them about Kelly's alleged smuggling of an entire pizza. Kelly tried to tell Jason Sole that he hadn't smuggled it in and that he purchased it from the concession stand. The two groups were far enough apart with many people between them that some of their bantering got lost in translation. In real life, it was the “American Chopper”, a group of men shouting at each other.

They kept chirping until tension reached a boiling point. Drew came to the plate in the seventh inning with two outs. Drew fouled off the ball at the plate. Garret Anderson, Angels left fielder, ran over to make a play but the ball was too far out of reach. The ball bounced directly into the opposing group, creating confusion and spilled beer. The ball ended up landing 30 feet on the field, and then fell to the ground.

Don Orsillo was the play-by–play announcer on the NESN broadcast. Jerry Remy, the late color commentator, was unable to stop his tone from becoming more confused as they watched. Remy was puzzled by the beer's bounce on the play and wondered loudly what Sole's mark is. Remy thought it must have been dirt at first and then declared that Sole was now covered with beer and mud.

Orsillo, Remy and others began to take a deep dive into the situation. As they became aware of what was happening, their minds were slowly lost in laughter. They started playing replays from all angles. They soon saw a foreign object coming in the sky and drilling Sole at his neck.

It wasn't mud, they discovered. Remy thought it was a sub sandwich at first, but the camera moved on to the next pitch. This could have been it. But that's not the end.

But the announcers didn't stop there. Drew remained behind the batter's box while Remy, Orsillo, and Remy returned to the live crowd shot. Sole pointed his finger at Kelly and shouted at the group. Sole continued to rage and the NESN graphics team gave him a Pepsi Fan award.

Orsillo declared, “Well he's The Pepsi Fans of the Game” and that was the end for the Red Sox long-time duo.

Remy started to giggle and Orsillo was able to hear the laughter spreading to Orsillo, who tried to announce Drew going down swinging for his final out of the innings. This had quickly become one of those “SNL' skits that is twice the fun because the actors are having so much fun.

Orsillo & Remy couldn't speak by the end of the commercial break. Remy attempted to navigate a W.B. Mason-sponsored promotion for the postgame show. Orsillo's giggles provided the soundtrack. Remy had seen multiple replays throughout the break, and was struggling to digest his analysis while the crew prepared for more replays.

Remy slowed down while reading, and Orsillo got in. Orsillo said that the responsible party was being ejected from the stadium and was now walking out of it. Remy worked through another slow-motion replay while they looked at the video. Remy blurted out his most famous call just as the camera captured the ball harmlessly bouncing to the ground and the beer landing onto Sole and a friend.

“Boom! Here comes the pizza!”

AS DREW'S FOUL BOWLKelly, who had just finished his first slice of pizza and was reaching for the next one as he headed towards his section, saw that he had reached into the box to get another. Kelly watched Sole, his friends, and Anderson turn their attentions to catching the foul ball in front. Kelly heard Anderson's voice clearly say, “You want a slice of pizza?” Well, here ya go!”

Madore, as required by Boston law was obliged to do so. Kelly covered Kelly in case the ball fell near them. Madore quickly realized that the ball was coming towards them from their rival section. Kelly leaned toward Madore and whispered, “Watch what you do.”

He took the fresh slice in his hands and threw a fastball towards his opponent. It's an extraordinary throw. It's better than anything Beckett did that day. Kelly took it in a more shot put-style throw than an overhand throw and the slice sailed directly at Sole, who tried to catch the foulball and beer that had splattered everywhere.

Although the slice was flipped once, it somehow kept a straight line towards Sole. It crashed onto Sole's neck, splashing sauce in an almost perfect triangle. Anderson was able to catch the pizza upside-down on the railing. The throw, the direct strike and the quick scramble to the perfect moment — it all feels like one-in-a million. How did he do that?

Professor PekoHosoi calls Kelly from her office at MIT to examine Kelly's throw. She wraps a rubber band around the triangular-shaped notebook she has just created and attempts to recreate it. Kelly's throw is replicated by her as she walks back approximately 10 feet.

She succeeds in her first attempt. As a sound of a flying notebook clangs against the wall, she exclaims “Bull’s-eye”.

She runs the experiment again after she was told the details — that Kelly was close to Kelly at 15 to 20 feet, that Kelly had to grab the pizza and throw the pizza in a matter of seconds or less — She talks about lift, drag, and Newton's second law, which states that force equals mass and acceleration. Kelly must have thrown her pizza at approximately 11 mph.

For her official attempt, she throws the notebook, but with no luck. She attempts it several more times until she finally succeeds.

Hosoi, a cofounder of the MIT Sports Lab and a professor of engineering and mathematics, says, “Oh yeah that was hard.” “I got more fluttering action this time. That was a hard throw. “I'm not going lie.”

Kelly only had one chance, and he hit a direct strike. After watching the slice of pizza hit its target, he immediately did the same thing every seventh-grader who spitball shoots. He looked around, trying to figure out who the jerk was throwing that pizza slice at. The dust settled quickly in the stands and the chucker was soon identified.

The man who was arguing for over an hour with the victim, and the guy with the whole pizza that appeared to be missing one slice, had all eyes on him. Madore flambé the situation by making eye contact and pretending outrage with the other group.

“Where did it come from?” He shouted, his hands held high in innocence. “Who did it?” “Who… threw the pizza?”

Madore and Kelly still laugh about that part of the story. It's typical Bahstan red sawx troublemaker humor. Security came and asked them to get out. Kelly and Madore refused to leave, trying to prove their innocence. However, the security guard insisted.

“Why?” Madore still fake-shrugging, “Why?”

“Because of you're a national TV star, you are f—ing stupid,” said the guard said.

Sole's girlfriend pulled her hood over her head and scrubbed him with napkins while Remy and Orsillo continued to laugh and discuss the situation. Sole quickly cooled off, and he was then shown laughing while on a phone call. He seemed to recover quickly and he was seen laughing.

Kelly believed that maybe he wouldn't address the pizza chuck either. For a time, it seemed as though life would return to normal. After getting booted by Fenway, he and his wife settled down at a bar and waited for the rest to arrive. Madore called to tell him that they would be meeting at a different bar.

Selina and he walked in together, but they stopped dead at the doorway. The Red Sox postgame was on every TV in the bar, and Remy (and Orsillo) were still trying to discuss the slice toss. Kelly still wanted to slip into the bar and not be noticed by anyone, until Madore shouted “Here's the Pizza Chucker!”

The whole room laughed and shouted “Pizza Chucker!” Kelly and his wife didn't need to buy drinks for the next 20 minute until they had to leave their babysitter.

Both Kellys let out a sigh in relief as they drove home. They seemed to have escaped relatively unscathed. They were not identified by anyone at the bar, nor did the Red Sox announcers. Kelly messaged everyone he could, including his Red Sox friends, and asked them to keep their identities secret.

While his wife was driving, he switched to sports radio and heard excited voices from the hosts discussing the event. They announced that Matt Madore would be their special guest. Kellys listened with horror as Madore spoke about the buildup to throw, the throw itself, and its aftermath.

Finally, the host asked the terrifying question. “What is the name of Pizza Chucker?”

Kelly's eyes grew wide as he waited for the answer. He hoped Madore would tell him that he couldn’t reveal the identity of his friend.

Madore paused for a moment, and then blurted out, “Absolutely.” His name is Danny Kelly!”

THE LEGEND OF THE FENWAY PIZZA CHOUCKER Dan Kelly had lost control of his phone. He turned off his phone when his phone started chirping nonstop. After listening to voicemails about pizza shops endorsing their products later, Kelly decided to ignore them all. Kelly thought Kelly might be known by some people, but it was possible that the whole thing would blow over.

It hasn’t been over.

Kelly was forced to speak out after the calls continued to pile up. Kelly did a couple of interviews and showed up at Fenway with a friend a few years later. The sign said that he was there with Fenway Pizza Chucker. Kelly was interviewed by NESN on the air. He seems to have realized that he would have to lean in order to get the best out of it. Kelly smiled throughout the interview and admitted that he regrets being such a drunken fool that day.

He tried to be a good compromise between being polite and taking it all too seriously in that interview. Kelly admits, “I feel like it was food fight sucker punch because he was distracted by me. So I'm not too proud.” It was an instinctive moment. It was my Will Smith moment.”

Kelly sits in “Kelly's Pub” and looks back at it all during a Zoom. The entire room is filled with Boston-related stuff. It includes a signed ball from Roger Clemens and a photo of Larry Bird with him. A rectangular frame with seven photos from the seven Boston sports titles that were won between 2001 and 2011 is hung behind him. It is called “Decade of Dominance”.

One day, he reached back and grabbed a personalized license plate that he used to keep on his car but had to stop paying renewal fees. He is delighted to see people trying to decipher what the ESRUC means. He says that he was trying to find something unique that no one else had thought of before the big reveal. “Its curse, reversed.”

He's trying out to find his favorite Kelly's Pub item, but he finally gets off his camera and snaps a photo of his daughter and son at their first Red Sox game together.

There isn't a single item that commemorates his Fenway legacy, despite all the memorabilia and pictures, as well as the jerseys, photos, and memorabilia. The framed pizza slice is missing. The ticket stub from that evening? A rendering of the greatest throw in Fenway bleacher-era history. Anything? He says, “I don’t want to be remembered as the idiot who threw the pie.”

But… he's still going to get calls. This is the 15th Anniversary, but he also has the possibility of receiving calls for the 20th or 25th. He's the Fenway Pizza Chucker and will always be. Kelly is still getting used to that and hesitates a bit when asked if he can hit a button to undo everything.

“If you asked me this question 10 years ago, I would have said yes,” he replies. “But today, my absolute answer to that question is no. It's fun.

After a brief moment, he is quiet and you can clearly see that the man who alters acceptance letters for Irish social clubs is about to enter the chat.

Kelly confesses that he regrets the entire thing and then his voice falls a little. “But not really.”

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