BOSTON (AP) - Pedro Martinez opened his blazer wide to reveal the skinny torso that has grown only slightly puffier with age.
“I wasn’t supposed to be” a Hall of Famer, said the 5-foot-11 right-hander, who was thought early in his career to be too small and frail to hold up to the rigors of a major league baseball schedule. “But because of the fact that I did it the way I did it, and the integrity I carried while doing it, is probably what led to me going into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.”
Martinez was elected to the Cooperstown, New York, shrine on Tuesday with 91.1 percent of the vote, easily surpassing the 75 percent necessary for induction. Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will join Martinez on stage at the July 26 ceremony.
Martinez said the honor was something he never counted on, even as he was dominating baseball’s bulked-up hitters in the prime of the steroid era.
“I’m proud I did it in an era that the challenge was at the top,” he said. “I had to face probably the toughest matchup out there. Well, guess what: I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wanted to beat the best. I wanted to be the best I could be every time I went out there.
“I wanted to embarrass the best team out there. I wanted to. I meant to,” he said. “Any time I had an opportunity to embarrass any team in the big leagues, including the ones using PEDs, it was a great honor to do it.”
Before the news conference, the Red Sox played a video that showed not only Martinez’s highlights on the mound but also scenes from the carnival the ballpark became. Fans waved Dominican flags and counted his strikeouts, and there were plenty of shots of Martinez clowning around in the dugout on his off-days.
When it was over, the room fell silent and then from the bottom of a staircase came a shout in Spanish: “Hola!”
“I was a loose goose when I wasn’t pitching. But then when I came to the field before a game, all that changed,” he said. “That was the way I could focus, and that was the way I could go out there like there was no tomorrow. I pitched every game like there was no tomorrow.”
Although he won an NL Cy Young Award in Montreal with the Expos, Martinez spent the peak years of his career in Boston. From 1999-2000, he went 41-10 with a 1.90 ERA and 597 strikeouts, winning back-to-back honors as the best pitcher in the AL.
In all, Martinez finished with a 219-100 record and a 2.93 ERA. He struck out 3,154 batters, twice surpassing 300 in a season. He was an eight-time all-star, and five times he led the major leagues in ERA.
“You were in awe at what you were watching,” Smoltz said. “It looked like a cartoon what he was doing. It looked like the ball had connections to his fingers.”
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