In a day and age where young superstars seem to be taking the spotlight and the reigns from older veterans, it’s interesting to imagine the careers that lie ahead of them. The thought of the potential of young talent that could blossom into a superstar is what forced the Los Angeles Dodgers’ hands to sign Pedro Martinez in 1988.
A short, skinny kid out of the Dominican Republic, Pedro flashed an electric fastball along with a competitive spirit that would rival anyone throughout the game. After he signed, the Dodgers were not encouraged by Pedro’s physical features and projected that his 5’11”, 180-pound frame would eventually let him down.
Martinez was traded to Montreal after the Dodgers had fully given up on his potential. Expos general manager Dan Duquette was very encouraged with what he saw from Martinez in Los Angeles, prompting the trade. In four seasons there, Martinez started to show signs of life and eventually established himself as a very good pitcher. He went 55-33 with a 3.06 ERA in his tenure in Montreal and won his first career Cy Young Award.
Duquette, still quite impressed with Martinez’s work ethic, traded for Martinez a second time. This time though, not even Martinez could have imagined how well this deal would turn out. Martinez made his name known in Boston for his two Cy Young seasons, along with being a huge piece in helping New England “reverse the curse” and bring home a World Series championship for the first time in 86 years.
Martinez’ 117-37 record, 2.52 ERA, and 1,683 strikeouts in Boston helped him ink his name in the record books as well as into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Martinez, the second Hall of Famer from the Dominican Republic, along with Juan Marichal, was very thankful in his acceptance speech. He talked to Commissioner Rob Manfred, thanked him, and said that there’s is a lot of work to do with baseball in the Dominican Republic. He hoped that kids from the Dominican Republic could see him as a role model.
Former ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd recently came under scrutiny for his comments on Dominican players, saying that he did not think that baseball was complex, using as evidence the fact that “a third of the sport is Dominican.” MLB was justified in its statement saying that Cowherd owed Dominicans an apology for the comments. Among the 856 players on Opening Day rosters this season, 95 of them hailed from the Dominican Republic.
Martinez was asked about them on his induction weekend and said, “I’m sorry. He needs to get on my level to answer him. I’m in the Hall of Fame.”
That was all Martinez had said until he was asked about it again, this time during his press conference after the Red Sox had retired his famed number 45.
“No, I don’t want to. Today is my day. The other day was my induction to the Hall of Fame. I have plenty of things to think about. I have plenty of reasons to be enjoying the moment. I don’t want to ruin the moment. He doesn’t deserve any of this great parade. He wasn’t invited to the Pedro Parade. He needs to stay away. Let’s continue with my parade and my induction and our induction and the people that really care. That’s the people I’m talking to. I’m talking to you guys because you guys care, you guys are important. I don’t need anybody that’s not important, and I don’t care about what he does with his life. He can go and do whatever he is doing. This is my time now.”
In a day that filled Fenway Park and Red Sox Nation with warmth and joy, Martinez showed everyone what Boston means to him. It was typical of Martinez the player to not let anything bother him, but it was fantastic that Martinez didn’t let these comments take over what was his day and his weekend. One of the greatest of all time was immortalized in Fenway Park yesterday, and that is what we all should be celebrating.