Pedro Martinez wants to be more than just a symbol of on-field excellence.
Few players in the history of Major League Baseball have possessed Martinez’s combination of skill and charisma. Even fewer have transcended the game like Pedro, whose lasting impact, especially in his native Dominican Republic, goes beyond otherworldly statistics and historic performances.
“Don’t remember me by the numbers I posted, don’t remember me in an elite class and as part of the Hall of Fame,” Martinez told reporters Saturday in Cooperstown, N.Y., on the eve of his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “I want to be remembered as a sign of hope so that people can understand that they have a way out. All they have to do is work and dedicate themselves and actually try to find the exit that’s out there.
“I want to represent that, I want to represent the people that want to try to find a way out to a better life, to represent the legacy of my family and God and all those things.”
It’s no surprise Martinez doesn’t take anything for granted, even with a Hall of Fame plaque serving as a nice bow for his illustrious 18-year career. As the former Boston Red Sox ace reminded everyone back in 2004, there was a point in his life when he sat under a mango tree without 50 cents to pay for a bus.
Now, he’s the second player ever from the Dominican Republic to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Juan Marichal, who was inducted in 1983.
“What we got is what we deserve,” Martinez said of there being so few Dominicans enshrined in Cooperstown. “There’s no crying in baseball. We did not have the numbers or do the kind of things to make us qualified to have another one. Juan Marichal was the Dominican Dandy and represented the Dominican Republic for a long time. Now, after 32 years, I showed up in the area.
“I don’t think we’re going to wait 32 more years for another representative. Vladimir Guerrero is right on the edge of becoming the next Hall of Famer. And there are guys who are still playing and posting numbers that I think are going to be in the Hall of Fame. I’m talking about Albert Pujols. Maybe David Ortiz. Adrian Beltre. I think those are guys who will make it right away on the first ballot.”
Martinez’s enshrinement could, as he suggests, kickstart a trend of Dominican-born players earning induction into the Hall, with the names mentioned being at the top of the list. But the three-time Cy Young winner’s impact already manifests itself in the sheer volume of Latinos across the league, many of whom likely went through similar experiences in wondering about the future.
Even those stateside can relate to Martinez’s ability to overcome adversity in pursuit of fame, fortune and eternal commendation.
“I am a very regular human being once I take the uniform off,” Martinez said. “I am lovely. I’m a joker. I’m a gardener. I’m a fisherman. I’m a father — a very dedicated father. I love my mom.”
It’s time to add “sign of hope” to Pedro’s list of unquestionable credentials.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@985TheSportsHub