Rob Gronkowski’s departure from the New England Patriots offered a reminder: There sure have been some fascinating athletes to come through this region.
As such, NESN.com is taking local fans on a lighthearted trip down memory lane by highlighting 10 “charismatic characters” in Boston sports history. You know, those enthralling players with big personalities who captivated audiences for reasons beyond their on-field performance.
Pedro Martinez is one of the best pitchers in Boston Red Sox history. Maybe the best.
Martinez, originally from the Dominican Republic, spent seven seasons with the Red Sox (1998-2004). During that time, he posted a 2.52 ERA and a cumulative record of 117-37 (.760). He won five ERA titles during his Major League Baseball career, four of which came with Boston.
Martinez won three Cy Young Awards (1997, 1999, 2000) and was the runner-up on two other occasions. In 2000, Martinez held hitters to just a .167 batting average, something unheard of in an era of offensive explosion.
One of Martinez’s most memorable accomplishments came in 2004, when he helped lift the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years. Although he regressed a bit that season with free agency looming, Martinez came up big when it mattered most.
Prior to his stint in Boston, Martinez spent his first two MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers then four seasons with the Montreal Expos. After his peak performance with the Red Sox, he headed to the New York Mets for four seasons, then closed out his career with one season with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015. Boston retired No. 45 just two days later in his honor.
Martinez was known for more than just his dominance on the mound, though. He was a fearless competitor who wasn’t afraid to tell it how it was, especially since his pitching backed up his confidence.
And oh yeah, he had a little fun along the way, too.
How could we pick only one? Well, let’s relive Martinez’s performance at the 1999 All-Star Game, in which he shined brightest, striking out five legends over two innings en route to earning MVP honors.
Oh, you wanted something a little more lighthearted?
How about Martinez getting taped to a dugout pole…
…or wearing a Yoda mask.
“I don’t believe in damn curses. Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the (expletive), pardon me the word.”
— Martinez, on May 30, 2001, during a press conference before a game against the Yankees.
“If you lean over the plate, he’ll stick one up your nose,”
— Yankees slugger Jason Giambi