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Martinez, Pedro

Pedro Martinez

1971-

Dominican baseball player

Pedro Martinez is arguably the most dominant pitcher of his era. Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Martinez followed his brother Ramon to the United States and pitched with him for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1992-93, and with the Boston Red Sox from 1999-2000. He quickly developed a reputation

that followed him from Los Angeles to Montreal and eventually to the Boston Red Sox. In Boston, he has revitalized World Series hopes in a city that has gone without since Babe Ruth left over 80 years ago. His numbers are reminiscent of a bygone era when pitchers dominated the game. Still in his prime, Martinez has debunked the myth of the juiced ball and overpowered the home run hitters that have hijacked headlines in recent years. He is among the most visible of the Latin players that have injected interest and mystique into a game that had lost some of its glory after the player's strike of 1994.

Born October 25, 1971 in Santa Domingo, he was the fifth of six children raised in Manoguyabo. His parents divorced when he was just nine years old, but Martinez remains very close to his family and especially his older brother Ramon. His father was an amateur pitcher who helped his sons develop their talent and passion for baseball. When Ramon was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pedro followed, carrying his brother's equipment bag to practice everyday. Their dream came true when the Dodgers signed the then sixteen-year-old Pedro to a contract. Although the brothers were developing at different times, they were teammates on the Dodgers from 1992-93.

The following year the Dodgers traded Martinez to the Montreal Expos. It was in Montreal that Pedro would develop into a dominating force. Martinez became a starting pitcher in Montreal. Known more for a love of hockey than baseball, Montreal did nothing to increase Martinez's visibility on the national stage. His reputation within major league baseball, however, began to grow. An inside pitcher, Martinez was known for hitting batters and inciting fights. Far from intentional, his Dominican training and a lack of control were responsible for the trend. Martinez became the second pitcher in baseball history to pitch a perfect game into extra innings in 1995, but his bid was lost in the tenth inning when his perfect game was disrupted by a Bip Roberts double. Despite a reputation as an intimidator, Martinez continued to improve and in 1997 was the unanimous choice for the National League Cy Young Award. The Expos, however, was a team with a low payroll that could not afford to keep its superstars and the forever dismantling team was a frustration for Martinez. It soon became clear that Martinez's price would force him out of Montreal and after winning the Cy Young, he was in demand.

The Boston Red Sox would eventually win the bidding war that would make him the highest paid player in baseball. Although Martinez would have rather pitched in a warmer climate, Boston's rabid baseball fans convinced him that he would be at home in Fenway Park. In his first year with the Red Sox, Martinez led his team to the post-season and an 11-3 victory in game one of the their first round playoff. He continued his dominance in 1999 and 2000 when he led the American League in strikeouts.

Chronology

1971 Born in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic
1988 Signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers
1992 Makes first major league appearance
1993 Traded to the Montreal Expos
1995 Throws second perfect game into extra innings in history
1996 Makes first All-Star Game appearance
1997 Wins first Cy Young award
1998 Traded to the Boston Red Sox
1999 Wins second Cy Young award
2000 Wins third Cy Young award

After winning three Cy Young awards in four years, Martinez was sidelined with a shoulder injury in 2001. The injury, the result of years of overuse, threatened his ability to pitch as he always had. His brother Ramon's career was similarly affected by an injury that led to his early retirement. In 2002, Martinez and the Red Sox were determined to use him more judiciously. "If I go down tomorrow, I'll be happy," Martinez said in a Sporting News article. "I'll go home, send my cleats to my trophy room and leave them there. That will be it. I'm honestly really glad and really happy with God for putting me in this position. Remember, I was too skinny. I was too small. I wouldn't hold up for five innings, I wouldn't stay in the big leagues. I wasn't a prospect. Then, all of a sudden, everything happened. I was a prospect. I proved I wasn't too small. I'm Pedro, three-time Cy Young Award winner. I'm making money. I'm secure. And I've been around for 10 years. That's a lot to ask."

Martinez still lives in Santo Domingo during the off season. He has built a church, gymnasium, two baseball diamonds and houses for his family. The immense pride he has in his Dominican heritage has inspired loyalty even among opposing fans. During a recent game against the Yankees when a fight broke out among Boston fans hanging strikeout signs from the bleachers, a group of Dominican Yankee fans came to the rescue. "It feels really good now to have some of my people come and bring flags and say 'Hey, we're Dominicans!" he said.

Career Statistics

Yr Team W L ERA IP H R ER BB SO SV
BOS: Boston Red Sox; LA: Los Angeles Dodgers; MON: Montreal Expos.
1992 LA 0 1 2.25 8.0 6 2 2 1 8 0
1993 LA 10 5 2.61 107.0 76 34 31 57 119 2
1994 MON 11 5 3.42 144.2 115 58 55 45 142 1
1995 MON 14 10 3.51 194.2 158 79 76 66 174 0
1996 MON 13 10 3.70 216.2 189 100 89 70 222 0
1997 MON 17 8 1.90 241.1 158 65 51 67 305 0
1998 BOS 19 7 2.89 233.2 188 82 75 67 251 0
1999 BOS 23 4 2.07 213.1 160 56 49 37 313 0
2000 BOS 18 6 1.74 217.0 128 44 42 32 284 0
2001 BOS 7 3 2.39 116.2 84 33 31 25 163 0
2002 BOS 20 4 2.26 199.1 144 62 50 40 239 0
TOTAL 152 63 2.62 1892.1 1406 615 551 507 2220 3

Awards and Accomplishments

1996 First All-Star Game Appearance
1997 Wins first Cy Young award
1999 Voted All-Star Most Valuable Player
1999 Wins second Cy Young award
2000 Wins third Cy Young award

Throughout his career Pedro Martinez has defied expectations and amazed his opposition. He has pitched in both leagues and dominated them both. Despite his small frame, he has proved both durable and effective. His visibility has opened the doors for other Latin players, including a younger brother who recently signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the fame and fortune, Martinez has given back to his family and homeland. He has proven he has the ability and heart to continue to work and improve on a career that has already exceeded expectations.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

Sports Stars. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.

Periodicals

"Ace in the Hole." Sporting News (June 12, 1995): 56.

"Inside Edition." Sporting News (July 18, 1994): 12.

"Passion in Every Pitch." Newsweek (April 6, 1998): 57.

"Pedro." Time (June 26, 2000): 52.

"Pedro in the Pantheon." Baseball Research Journal (annual, 2001): 71.

"Pitcher of the Year." Baseball Digest (January 2001).

"Real Funny." Sporting News (May 29, 2000): 16.

"Rocket Redux." Sports Illustrated (April 20, 1998): 38.

"The Case for Pedro Martinez." Sports Illustrated (September 15, 1997): 84.

"The Hits Stop Here." Newsweek (April 10, 2000): 42.

"The Inside Story." Sports Illustrated (May 26, 1997): 82.

"The Latin All-Stars." Time International (October 4, 1999): 44.

Sketch by Aric Karpinski

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