Fans at Fenway Park had the opportunity to see Pedro Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers not only in Red Sox history, but in Baseball history get his number 45 retired during a pre-game ceremony Tuesday night. The event took place just prior to the Red Sox facing the Chicago White Sox.
The recent Hall of Fame Inductee was honored at the ballpark and fans were given a miniature Hall of Fame plaque detailing some of his career statistics as well as player history. During the event a video highlight was shown on the jumbotron giving fans, players, and coaches a chance to admire Pedro’s supremacy on the mound and his charisma in the dugout and clubhouse. The video also featured Martinez career stats, which got the crowd roaring before he even took the field. So many of the numbers are staggering however a few that got a rise out of those spectating included the following: The 313 strikeouts in 1999, which was Pedro’s single-season career-high and a Sox franchise record. His 1.74 ERA in 2000, which was ridiculous, keeping in mind the juiced-up players he was fanning on a nightly basis. Then, last but not least, the .760 winning percentage (117-37) with the Red Sox between 1998-2004, best in the majors in that time span.
Martinez, accompanied by his wife and children, waited excitedly as Red Sox legends came out to congratulate him on his accomplishments. It all started with a video message from Nomar Garciaparra, who recalled being inducted into the Latino Hall of Fame with Martinez, he was asked to use two words to describe the sensational ace and said, ‘The Best,” which may simply be the most accurate description.
The ceremony was led by the voice of the Red Sox, Joe Castiglione, who called on Sox greats such as Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Dennis Eckersley, and Carlton Fisk to present Pedro with gifts and memorabilia. One unique gift was a bronze mold, covered in gold, of Pedro’s huge hands and freakishly long fingers. It was, after all, these fingers that allowed him to force righties out of the batters box, waving at that up and in, high-rising fastball and then make most who faced him look foolish with a one of a kind change up. Martinez was also presented with a laptop computer full of video highlights of his career from teammates Curt Schilling, Trot Nixon and Orlando Cabrera. A special thank you and a call to review ‘El Tiante’ Luis Tiant all-time numbers for further accolades was made by Pedro during his speech. He also thanked former Expos manager Felipe Alou as well as Ralph Avila, the scout who first discovered Martinez at a young age in the Dominican Republic. Sox favorite Tim Wakefield made an appearance and presented the Martinez family with a donation to his charity. Pedro also took time for heartfelt gratitude aimed at all the fans in Red Sox Nation.
It was David Ortiz that set in motion the unveiling of #45, which will now forever be a part of Fenway Park and the Red Sox organization and never again be worn by a Sox player. Ortiz spoke to the Fenway Faithful to address Pedro’s amazing career but also his genuine personality that New England came to fall in love with during his time in Boston.
Before Martinez could finish his speech, he brought out his catcher Jason Varitek to share the moment with him calling it “his moment, too.” This was apparently off script as Varitek was to come out for the first pitch, to this Martinez said, “Hey, this is Pedro,” and, much to the delight of the crowd, referred to the celebration as “my party.” The Hall of Fame pitcher took the mound for the final time in front of a standing ovation as he threw out the first pitch, high and tight of course, to his battery-mate Varitek.
In Pedro’s career he was voted onto eight All-Star teams, and won three Cy Young Awards while piling up 3,154 strikeouts, 219 wins, and a 2.93 career ERA. Pedro recently received 91.1 percent of the vote to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining this years class of baseball legends. Whether it was blowing away the side or taping a player to a post in the dugout, Martinez was as integral a part of the Red Sox as there was at the turn of the millennium. Pedro dazzled all those who watched him with his electric fastball, majestic change-up and infectious smile. His dominance as a pitcher and his leadership in the clubhouse helped Boston reverse the curse and win the 2004 World Series. Pedro’s role on that team, and the greatness of his Red Sox career will never be forgotten, and now remembering is just as easy as turning your head toward right field.