New York Yankees first baseman (11) Doug Mientkiewicz May 30, 2007; Toronto, ON, Canada; New York Yankees first baseman (11) Doug Mientkiewicz in action against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON. New York won 10-5. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Mientkiewicz wasn’t in Boston long, though his 49-game stint in 2004 culminating in the Red Sox ending an 86-year title drought is what fans probably remember most from his 12-year career in Major League Baseball.

You might recall Mientkiewicz caught the final out of that year’s World Series, pocketing the ball during the team’s ensuing celebration. That set off a bitter feud that took years to resolve with Mientkiewicz, after being threatened with a lawsuit, finally giving the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

“They didn’t want me to sell it to make money,” Mientkiewicz told Scott Braun and A.J. Pierzynski (the latter was his former teammate on the Minnesota Twins) on Foul Territory. “[Larry] Lucchino called me and wanted to put it in the Fenway Hall of Fame so that people would pay to come see it. I was like, ‘Well, you’re going to charge people to come see it, right?’ And he’s like, ‘‘Yes, of course.’”

Mientkiewicz countered with what he felt was a fair proposal, agreeing to give up the ball in exchange for the team donating a portion of ticket sales to the Jimmy Fund, a local charity with all proceeds going to cancer research. “I go, ‘Well, why don’t you put a dollar to every ticket you sell to go to the Jimmy Fund in honor of the players?’ His exact quote to me was, ‘Players don’t tell us what to do with our money.’ I was like, ‘Okay, motherfucker. You ain’t fucking getting it then.’ And then I became the villain.”

The sides eventually settled on a compromise, though the hostility from the Red Sox—and Lucchino, in particular—didn’t sit well with Mientkiewicz, who, for years, declined to wear his World Series ring as a form of silent protest.

“I didn’t wear my World Series ring for two years because I was like fuck these guys,” said Mientkiewicz, who recently went viral for his scathing criticism of former high-school teammate Alex Rodriguez, believing the controversial slugger will “die a lonely man.” “Then I thought about it, like the people I’m arguing with really had nothing to do with it. It’s the players. So I was like, ‘Alright.’ I finally put it back on and I have a better taste in my mouth, but it was a shit show from the start.”

The Red Sox’s memorable playoff run in ’04 came at the expense of their oldest rival, the New York Yankees, who hold the dubious honor of being the first—and so far only—MLB team to blow a 3-0 series lead. Mientkiewicz found himself on the other side of that rivalry in 2007, describing his time in pinstripes as one of the most pleasantly surprising experiences of his career.

“I was a little skeptical of going to the Yankees’ clubhouse when I signed with them in ’07. I felt so at home. They weren’t what I thought they were from afar. You all see like this business machine that keeps going,” said Mientkiewicz, who, upon joining the Bronx Bombers as a free agent, had expected George Steinbrenner’s “evil empire” to be a little more … evil. “I couldn’t believe how much fun [it was] and Derek [Jeter] had a lot to do with that. He was always very humble in the sense of like he would make fun of himself. Most baseball players are self-deprecating. We have to deal with so much failure. That was probably the biggest surprise of my career was seeing how Derek really was behind closed doors and how much fun he was.”

A slap-hitting (66 career home runs) journeyman throughout his career, Mientkiewicz may not be a Hall-of-Fame player, but as a podcast guest, he’s an aggregator’s dream, churning out content with headline-worthy quotes whenever there’s a microphone in front of him.

[Foul Territory]

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.