The story behind the Fenway pizza throw

April 16th, 2023

A version of this story originally appeared in March 2021.

It's one of the most bizarre fan interactions ever caught on video at a baseball game.

Sure, spectators get in arguments, they get in fights, they'll even steal foul balls from each other. But throwing a slice of pizza at a fan? A fan who's cheering for the same team you're cheering for? For what seemingly looks like no reason?

"I've been talking about it for too long," Dan Kelly, infamous Fenway pizza thrower, told in a phone interview. "But I'm not done. I'm ready to [throw the pizza] again."

The Red Sox were taking on the Angels on Patriots' Day 2007, one of the holiest of all holidays in Boston. The Sox always play at 11 a.m. ET, the earliest game time for any team all season. It's also the day of the Boston Marathon. The way Kelly, in a thick Massachusetts accent, sets it all up is almost poetic -- like the beginning of a certain Fenway victory song.

"It was a long time ago on a rainy Patriots' Day," Kelly remembered. "And I've always done Patriots' Day Red Sox, you know. Everybody shows up early, gets breakfast ... so we always show up the same time with a big group of people; it's myself, my wife and a big group of friends. We get breakfast and mimosas and get ready for a fun day of baseball. But there was a huge rain delay, so, you know what that means: [more mimosas]. Some of us can handle it, some of us can't. I'd like to count myself among those that can -- besides one brief moment."

Kelly, his wife and their friends had standing-room tickets for the game against the Los Angeles Angels. But when there's a rain delay, there are always empty seats. So, Kelly and his group of 10-12 moved down to where Fenway's left-field wall awkwardly juts out to meet the white chalk of the foul line.

"Nobody had a problem with it," Kelly said. "My wife and I were hungry and they had just started serving pizza that year. People thought that I had smuggled the pizza in. That is incorrect. So, I went to order a couple of slabs."

Kelly ordered an entire pie and came back down, handing out slices to his friends. Pizza, Red Sox baseball, perfect seats -- it was pretty much heaven.

But there was one fan nearby who had been rubbing Kelly the wrong way. He was making lots of noise and yelling at fans in the section for three innings straight. He had been, perhaps, one of those who was a bit overserved during the rain delay.

"It was pretty apparent to the entire section that he was causing a scene," Kelly told me. "I'm like, 'Hey it's friendly Fenway, c'mon, work it out, you guys are having a great time.' He didn't enjoy that and he was kinda jawing back and forth with us."

The whole thing came to a crescendo once Kelly brought the pizza down. The fan, Jason Sole, thought Kelly had smuggled it in. It's hard to blame him -- how many times do you see someone eating pizza at a baseball game?

"He said, 'Give me a slice or I'll call security,'" Kelly recalled. "I'm like, 'Go ahead, I bought it here.'"

And then, Sole went a little too far for Kelly to simply ignore him.

"He sees me hand my wife a slice and he says, 'Your wife's got better taste in pizza than in men,'" Kelly said.

Kelly admits he probably wasn't thinking straight and maybe had a couple too many beers, but when a foul ball came toward their left-field corner and it knocked drinks all over Sole -- Kelly saw his chance to add to the chaos.

"Something clicked in my head and I said, 'Here's your pizza, you asked for it!'"

Kelly says he got a standing ovation from the section after he did it.

But seeing it all happen live and not knowing the backstory -- the foul ball knocking over beers, left fielder Garret Anderson running over toward the stands and then a random pizza flying through the air and hitting someone in the face -- it was all ridiculously confusing. And, as you can hear in the main clip above, broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy couldn't get enough of it. They could barely do their jobs, giggling for what seemed like the rest of the game.

"Well, we're looking down the line to see if there's fan interference, you know, a fan reaching out who impeded," Remy told "So, that was the initial thing. And then, all of sudden, I'm looking and I see something being thrown. I wasn't sure exactly what it was. I didn't know if they were throwing it at Garret Anderson or throwing it at a fan or what the hell -- I didn't even know what it was. And, basically, we got it on replay, and you could clearly see then that it was a piece of pizza."

Remy said the funniest part was that the pizza landed almost perfectly on the railing. It looked like a "great piece of pizza," he remembered.

Security came down to remove Kelly from the game, and although Sole wasn't happy, he also saw how ridiculous the entire situation was.

"Yeah he was pissed off. I would be, too," Kelly told me. "If you see the video, he's kinda egging me on to fight him. ... His girlfriend's trying to calm him down and his friend's laughing. But at the same token, he was kinda laughing too at the end. It calmed down pretty quickly."

So, Kelly and his wife left the game. His wife, a schoolteacher, did not want to get too much camera time. Neither did Kelly. In the midst of all of this, they also had no idea that the throw was being replayed numerous times on TV and would end up being the most talked-about sports moment of the day. It was the No. 1 play on SportsCenter.

Meanwhile, Kelly and his wife went to popular Fenway bar Cask 'n Flagon to watch the end of the game.

"By then, the replays of the stupid throw were over. So, I had no idea," Kelly said. "My friends had texted me and told me the game was over and they were at Game On. We went to Game On just to have a quick beer with them and leave, but when we got there, somebody cued the DJ there -- 'hey, the pizza chucker's here.' They put it on every single TV and played some funny song. The whole place erupted. It was pathetic enough that people were looking for autographs."

For days and months afterward, Kelly more or less hid from anything that could connect him to the pizza throw. (It was hard to even find him today; I luckily heard him on a local Massachusetts sports podcast). His friends would call into Boston's local radio station WEEI and tell hosts they knew who the culprit was -- Kelly would plead with them not to tell anybody his name. Somehow pizza shops like Papa Gino's and Pizza Hut got his number and would call him up, ostensibly to do ads.

"Who knows, I didn't return their call," Kelly told me. "In retrospect, I kinda wish I did. Because it's funny now. I was embarrassed at the time, but now I'm like nobody got hurt. It was kinda funny. I wish I had embraced it a little bit more."

Remy enjoyed, but also seemed bewildered, that the clip has had this viral staying power.

"It's had that long-lasting effect of like every year, we celebrate National Pizza Day, they talk about it and it comes up all the time. I see videos of it on Twitter," said the Red Sox broadcaster, who passed away on Oct. 30. "It's amazing how people have kinda hung to that. ... You make calls on hit-and-runs, you make calls on squeezes, and you're known for the pizza thing."

Kelly has never heard from Sole about the incident, but thinks it would make a fun Web Redemption episode if Sole could throw a slice back in his face.

And what about the pizza? How good was the slice of pie he wasted in the Fenway stands?

"Eh, I'd give it a six. It was OK."

Additional Reporting by Ian Browne/