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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Gathright needed a fighting chance
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published March 29, 2006
BRADENTON - As it turns out, a sucker punch likely was the only way Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez was going to get the upper hand in a fight with Joey Gathright.
The Devil Rays centerfielder, whom Tavarez hit with a cheap shot Monday, is a black belt in tae kwon do. Had Gathright had a chance, his teammates said Tuesday, Tavarez would have been in trouble.
"Julian is a little bit lucky Joey didn't use some of that stuff on him," centerfielder Damon Hollins said.
Added rightfielder Jonny Gomes: "I've seen Gathright do some ninja kick over this dude's head who was 6-7, a roundhouse kick over his head just to show he can do it. So, yeah, I'd guess you'd call (Tavarez) lucky. He'd be chop suey."
He also could be suspended.
Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said disciplinarian Bob Watson is trying to find video of the incident before making a decision.
Gathright, 24, said he studied tae kwon do diligently from ages 8 to 18 but has done less since the Rays drafted him in 2001. He said the martial art is used primarily for self defense.
"There's no need to fight anyway," said Gathright, listed at 5 feet 10, 170 pounds. "But it does help to know how."
Tavarez started the bench-clearing brawl in the eighth inning by stepping on Gathright's right arm after a play at the plate. Gathright tried to push Tavarez away and, while on his right knee, was punched in the jaw.
Gathright, who has a spike mark on his right biceps and a swollen right forearm, said he was ready to use what he knows.
"I could have done a lot yesterday but it caught me off guard," he said.
And then his teammates rushed to his defense.
"You get by it," Gathright said of the incident. "You still think about the person but there's nothing you can do about it. It's just something that happened. You've got to go out and play."