Martinez, Dennis (1955–)

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Martinez, Dennis (1955–)

Dennis Martinez was the Latin American pitcher with the most victories in major league baseball when he retired in 1998 after a long career. Born on May 14, 1955, in Granada, Nicaragua, he played for the national team and had studied civil engineering before being signed by the Baltimore Orioles in December 1973. The pencil-thin right-hander made his first major-league appearance late in the 1976 season. Martinez was an important part of a number of great Orioles teams. He led the league in games (39), complete games (18), and innings pitched (292) for the 1979 team, which played in the World Series that year. He tied three other pitchers in the American League for the most wins (14) in the strike-shortened season of 1981. Drinking problems, however, limited his appearances on the 1983 World Series championship team.

Martinez was traded to the Montreal Expos in June 1986. He made a comeback there and led the National League in earned run average (ERA) and shutouts in 1991; he became the fourteenth pitcher in history to pitch a perfect game on July 28 of that year. He moved on to the Cleveland Indians in 1994. At the age of forty in 1995, he pitched a shutout and won his first postseason game against Randy Johnson in Seattle. He also pitched in the World Series that year. He played with Seattle in 1997 and ended his career with the Atlanta Braves in the following year. He pitched in 692 games in 23 seasons and had a career record of 245 wins and 193 losses, a 3.70 ERA, 30 shutouts, and 122 complete games. Having stayed aloof from the internecine struggles in his home country, he was spoken of as a possible presidential candidate in the 1990s; he has had to settle for the nickname El Presidente. In 1998 the national stadium in Managua was renamed in his honor. The Dennis Martinez Foundation has built and maintains children's shelters, schools, and little league baseball stadiums, and engages in other charitable works. The Orioles have employed him as a spring training instructor.

See alsoSports .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arbena, Joseph L. Latin American Sport: An Annotated Bibliography, 1988–1998. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.

The Baseball Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan, 1993.

Eisenberg, John. From 33rd Street to Camden Yards: An Oral History of the Baltimore Orioles. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary Books, 2001.

Pluto, Terry. Our Tribe: A Baseball Memoir. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999

                                Andrew J. Kirkendall