Four very different men, four very different baseball players, but one great atmosphere.
Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, and while all gave memorable speeches, Martinez stole the show – for Red Sox Fans, for Dominicans and for Nick Cafardo.
“Pedro, I think, really stood out to kind of deliver a message for the Dominican Republic,” the Boston Globe MLB writer said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He wants to represent them and he wants to kind of be their role model. He wants other Dominicans to be inspired by what he did. He had a lot of odds against him when he started out because of his size, and he just wanted to make sure that the Dominicans kind of looked up to him – and that was pretty much the message of the entire weekend. I think it came through pretty well during his induction speech and even in the aftermath of the induction when they had a little press conference. And of course there were all kinds of Dominicans there waving their flags. They had the K signs up there like they used to at Fenway Park. So yeah, it was kind of a fun day.”
Martinez, 43, was an eight-time All-Star, a three-time Cy Young winner, a Triple Crown winner, a wins champion, a five-time ERA champion, a three-time strikeout champion, and won a World Series with Boston in 2004, helping to end the infamous curse that had haunted the franchise, the city and all of New England since 1918.
Martinez, who said he wants to be a sign of hope for a third-world country, was the first Dominican inducted into Cooperstown since Juan Marichal in 1983.
“It’s huge,” Cafardo said. “As Pedro pointed out, there will be a lot more in the coming years. Vlady Guerrero has a good shot, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz – so there will be a bunch more in the future as the Dominican players play longer into their careers. But yeah, Pedro, again, it was a lot of stuff with him on all fronts, especially just trying to surpass expectations of people. Tommy Lasorda never thought he would be a starting pitcher because he was just so small. He thought he’d wear down – and eventually he did wear down, but it was about 219 wins later.”
Martinez pitched for five different teams – the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies – but he will always be remembered most for his time in Boston. He was also, as Cafardo reminded listeners, the heir apparent to Roger Clemens, who spent the first 13 years of his career with the Red Sox.
“I covered Roger Clemens for about 13 years, and I just thought he was sensational with the two 20-strikeout games 10 years apart and what he meant for the Red Sox as well,” Cafardo said. “In ’86, he had that phenomenal Cy Young/MVP-type season, and I think he kind of brought pitching back to the forefront for the Red Sox. Roger kind of represented the fact that the Red Sox were finally emphasizing pitching rather than the sluggers that they used to have along the way. And I think Pedro, when he came along, he was basically Roger’s replacement. It took a year for them to trade for Pedro and for Pedro to become basically the next Roger, and that’s what he became. We all remember that ’99 All-Star game where he strikes out five guys, five All-Stars in the first six batters – and there were plenty more memories of him along the way.”