Pedro Martinez is a legend in Boston. No doubt about it. He’s a guy that’s recognizable almost anywhere. The vocal Dominican right hander was beloved by Red Sox fans long before he helped win the 2004 World Series Championship.
He wasn’t one of those guys who was intimidating to look at on the mound, standing at only 5-foot eleven-inches and weighing 170 pounds. Despite his small stature, Pedro always pitched with a chip on his shoulder; like he had something to prove. That competitiveness alone, along with a devastating changeup, was a good enough recipe for striking fear into opposing batters.
Fans would go nuts every time Pedro took the mound, because they knew what they were in for. He is a baseball lifer. Pedro is always around Fenway whether it’s in the front office or in the dugout. He goes down to the Red Sox spring training complex every year to help current pitchers, as well as pitchers who are rising through the ranks. Pedro loves Boston and Boston adores Pedro.
Pedro’s 1999 season can truly be ranked as one of the best seasons from a starting pitcher of all time. In 29 starts, Martinez went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA in 213 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 313 batters and owned an ERA+ of 243 while striking out 13.2 batters per nine innings. He started the All-Star game that season and went on to win the American League CY Young Award.
Pedro followed up that season with another Cy Young campaign. He went 18-4 with a 1.74 ERA. He struck out 284 batters in 217 innings. He owned an ERA+ of 291 while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings.
Throughout his tenure in Boston, Martinez owned a 117-37 record. He was the recipient of back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 1999 and 2000. He lead baseball in ERA in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003, while making the All-Star team three times. Pedro was a huge piece in helping the Red Sox ‘Reverse the Curse’.
Pedro’s 1,683 strikeouts while donning the Red Sox uniform is good for third in team history. His 2.52 ERA puts him at seventh in the club’s history while he sits at number one in batting average against, holding the opposition to just a .206 average.
In his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, Pedro received 91.1% of the votes. He, along with John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, and Craig Biggio will be inducted into Cooperstown on Sunday, July 26th.
But on July 28th Pedro’s number 45 will be retired by the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox usually have strict guidelines for retiring a number. These include playing a minimum of ten seasons with the club and being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But in Pedro’s case, they made an exception, and rightfully so.
He is one of the best pitchers of all time and that’s no exaggeration. What Pedro was able to do in the middle of the Steroid Era, pitching in hitter-friendly Fenway Park, was remarkable. Now, his number will be forever immortalized among the legends that have played Boston baseball.