Pedro Martinez’s Red Sox Tenure Will Always Be Remembered As One of the Best in Boston Sports History


December 3, 2011

Pedro Martinez's Red Sox Tenure Will Always Be Remembered As One of the Best in Boston Sports HistoryPedro Martinez announced Saturday night that he will soon announce he's officially retiring from baseball, something that has been a foregone conclusion for some time now.

Martinez said that he'll make it official soon, but he hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2009, and even then, it was clear that his best pitching was behind him.

Injuries and general wear and tear had caught up with the undersized pitcher, as his violent motion and follow-through finally caught up to him. 

Essentially, it's been a long time since we have seen Pedro Martinez be Pedro Martinez, but those who watched the future Hall of Famer in his days with the Red Sox will never forget those years.

Of all the moves made by former general manager Dan Duquette, you could argue that none were as important as the trade that brought Martinez to Boston. On Nov. 18, 1997, Duquette acquired Martinez from Montreal for Carl Pavano and a player to be named later, a PTBNL that turned out to be Tony Armas, Jr.

From there, the love affair began. Martinez bust on to the scene in Boston and hit the ground running. 

Martinez's first start in a Boston uniform came on April 1, 1998. All Martinez did was throw seven scoreless innings, surrendering just three hits while striking out 11. It was the first of eight instances that season in which he would punch out more than 10.

Here's the thing. It only got better from there.

Martinez followed up his first season in Boston with two of the most dominating seasons in the history of baseball. He went a goofy 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA in 1999. He struck out 313 that season, winning the first of his two Cy Young awards that he'd win in Boston.

He also had the hallmark moments, as well. Martinez started the 1999 All-Star game in Boston, and while Ted Williams' pregame appearance will be what we'll always remember from that July night at Fenway, it was Pedro who did all he could to steal the show. He went two innings and faced six batters — he struck out five of them.

Then, a few months later, Martinez defied the odds by overcoming a borderline intolerable back injury to slam the door shut in the deciding Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series against Cleveland. His six no-hit innings out of the bullpen instantly became a thing of lore in Boston sports history.

And if he was good in '99, there are those who believe he was even better in 2000. Martinez "only" went 18-6 that year and "only" struck out 284 hitters, but his 1.74 ERA and .923 WHIP rank among some of the game's all-time greats.

You could look at Pedro's numbers from those years — and his entire time in Boston really — and realize how unhittable he was, but that's only half the fun. The stats are clear, tangible proof of what we saw with our own eyes. Every time Martinez took the mound, it was a bona fide event. 

You set your schedule around it. You knew that you couldn't go out with your friends on Tuesday night because Pedro had the ball, and you never knew what was going to happen. More often than not, something pretty special happened. You know, like maybe he'd go into Yankee Stadium and throw a one-hitter and strike out 17 Yankees.

He was so dominant, really, that you were left hoping that the Sox would score a run to give Martinez the lead and then go down in order the rest of the night and let you just enjoy watching someone who had completely mastered his craft.

And don't forget, Martinez was doing this all during the height of the steroid era, where the Dominican's wirey frame only made his dominance of the juiced-up sluggers he faced even more entertaining.

Of course, it wasn't just what Martinez did on the field. He was one of the most interesting players to come through Boston in some time. He had that Luis Tiant way about him — he was one helluva athlete, but he was also entertaining as hell. 

When it was all said and done, Martinez's time in Boston was one of the most dominating stretches of pitching in baseball history, no matter the era. He went 117-37 in his time in Boston. His ERA was 2.52. He averaged 240 strikeouts a season.

Most importantly, Martinez was part of the team that erased all of those years of heartache (he was, after all, the man on the mound during the Grady Little saga) and helped deliver a World Series title in 2004.

What else can you ask for from a guy? Martinez spent seven years in Boston, and each one seemed better than the last. His level of play reached historical levels, and Martinez often used his charisma and character to allow fans to come along for the ride.

Now, Martinez's ride as a major leaguer has appeared to come to the end of its road. Or, at the least, it will take a break for a few years before rolling into Cooperstown.

It's been almost a decade since Martinez toed the rubber every five days for the Red Sox, but it's safe to say that his contributions to not only the Red Sox, but Boston sports history as a whole, won't be forgotten any time soon.

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