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Former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez is apparently on his way to retirement. According to the Associated Press, Martinez has ruled out a return to the majors just three weeks after it seemed he suggested he wanted to return to the Red Sox. He said that those comments on a return were misinterpreted.
With Pedro now back under that mango tree, this time certainly with enough money to pay for the bus, we have to assume that soon he’ll be walking into the Hall of Fame.
Pedro was small in stature but big in heart. The 3-time Cy Young Award winner never feared any hitter and if anything, he struck fear into the opposition. This was never more evident than in the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. Martinez dazzled the home crowd by striking out five of the first six batters he faced.
Martinez was signed as an amateur free agent in 1988 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Before the 1994 season, Martinez was traded from the Dodgers to the Montreal Expos, where he began to make his name.
On June 3, 1995, Pedro pitched nine perfect innings in a scoreless game, but in the bottom of the 10th he gave up a hit and was relieved.
In November of 1997, when he was approaching free agency, Pedro was traded to the Red Sox and quickly signed to a six-year deal with an option for a seventh.
It was with Boston where Pedro became a legend. In 1999, he had one of the greatest seasons of all time for a pitcher. He went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts to win the pitcher’s triple crown.
In 2004, he helped lead Boston to their first World Series since 1918. After that season he was a free agent and left Boston and joined the New York Mets. In New York he was good, not great and was never the same dominant power pitcher he once was.
He rounded out his career with a stop in Philadelphia. Martinez returned to the World Series with the Phillies, but they lost to the New York Yankees four games to two.
In 18 seasons, the 8-time All-Star went 219-100 with 46 complete games, a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts. Four times he led the American League in ERA and three times he led in strikeouts.
October 11, 1999 – Pedro made an unexpected relief appearance in Game 5 of a divisional series game against the Cleveland Indians. Martinez threw 6 shutout innings and struck out eight after Brett Saberhagen and Derek Lowe combined to give up 8 runs. The win completed the comeback as the Sox won three straight facing elimination to advance.
May 28, 2000 – Martinez faced off against Roger Clemens in a dramatic duel of aces. A 0-0 tie was broken up in the top of the ninth when Trot Nixon homered off Clemens. Martinez earned the complete game shutout with nine strikeouts.
August 29, 2000 – Pedro lost a no-hit bid in the ninth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. John Flaherty lead off the inning with a single. The game started with Martinez hitting the leadoff batter, Gerald Williams. Williams charged the mound and landed a punch before he was taken out by Jason Varitek. After that point Pedro was locked in and retired then next 24 hitters. He had 13 K’s in the win.
October 11, 2003 – In Game 3 of the ALCS, Martinez hit Yankees right fielder Karim Garcia, which sparked a shouting match between Pedro and the Yankees’ bench. Pedro yelled at Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, pointed at his head. All assumed this was a direct threat of a beanball. In the bottom of the inning, Sox slugger Manny Ramirez took exception to a high fastball from Yankees starter Roger Clemens and benches cleared. During the fracas, Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer charged at Martinez. Pedro threw Zimmer to the ground.
October 16, 2003 – In Game 7 of that same series, Pedro was pitching his way to a victory to send Boston to their first World Series since 1986. In the eighth inning, Martinez fell into trouble, holding onto a 5-2 lead. Grady Little came to the mound presumably to take Pedro out, but he left him in to finish things off. Martinez gave up four straight hits and the Yankees tied the game and go on to win the game in extra innings.
October 26, 2004 – Martinez played in his first World Series game. He pulled out the win in Game 3 by shutting out the St. Louis Cardinals through seven innings. He retired all of the last 14 batters he faced. The Sox went on to win their first World Series in 86 years. This would be Pedro’s last game with the Red Sox
The numbers for Pedro add up. His resume is strong and he dominated hitters in an era where it was very difficult to do so, especially in the tough American League East. He’s 13th all-time in strikeouts and 6th all time in win percentage. At the time of his 200th career victory he had the highest winning percentage of all-time.
Pedro also had great character. He used to love to have fun in the dugout and keep his teammates loose. His antics once drove his teammate Nomar Garciaparra to tape his mouth shut and tape him to the dugout post. Although he loved to joke and have fun he was a tremendous competitor.
Garciaparra once said about Pedro:
“Pedro’s a funny guy. He really enjoys the game, but on days when he’s pitching, as soon as the game starts, it’s all business.”
Thank you Pedro for 18 great seasons, especially the 7 here in Boston. We’ll see you in Cooperstown.