PEDRO STEALS THE SHOW IN COOPERSTOWN

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On Sunday, July 26 — Father’s Day in the Dominican Republic — Pedro Martinez was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Oh, the irony.

Now, who’s your daddy?

Baseball has a long list of characters who have played the game, but you can count on one hand those who have transcended the game for their ability to perform and entertain. His modest stature and big personality were childlike.

On Sunday, Martinez noted:

Today I don’t want to roll into numbers and games that I pitched. I just want to make sure that my people see me as a sign of hope for a future generation. I feel proud to be from Dominican Republic. I give this to all the fathers in the Dominican because today is Father’s Day in Dominican. The day I got called to be in the Hall of Fame is January 6th, which is Kid’s Day.

Martinez pitched 18 seasons, none more memorable than 1998-2000 and 2002, when he won two Cy Young Awards, winning 80 games, losing 21 and striking out 1,087 batters.

Still, he never forgot what got him to that point saying, “The whole world watching a guy that if you reverse time back 15 years ago, I was sitting under a mango tree without 50 cents to pay for a bus.”

What Martinez did for the game of baseball is rare, and deserves every accolade. He stole the show one last time in Cooperstown on Sunday.

Of course, Martinez wasn’t alone of the stage at Cooperstown. He was joined by three other baseball legends: John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson.

Biggio said:

So the big question is, how do you get to the Hall of Fame? You got to have a little bit of talent, and you got to have a lot of help along the way. Like a lot of successful organizations, you’re only going to be successful with good people around you. One of those coaches was Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. Yogi was the smartest baseball man I was ever around. Although he’s known for his Yogi‑isms, his baseball intellect was second to none. Yogi would say things in a Yogi way, he’d walk by and say some things, I’d be confused. Then the next half inning, the one thing would happen, then the next half inning the other thing would happen. I sat back down on the bench and said, Oh, my gosh, I got a lot to learn about this game. Yogi used to say, You have to have an idea and a plan. But at the end of the day, keep it simple, stupid.

Smoltz said:

I want to talk about four significant phone calls in my life. The first was getting drafted by the Detroit Tigers, a dream that a hometown kid would have. The second one was not the best of phone calls. It was getting traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Atlanta Braves, the worst team in all of baseball at the time. The third was a call from Tommy John, encouraging me to continue with my career at the age of 34. The fourth call is not something I ever dreamed about … on January 6, when I got the call letting me know that I had been inducted into the Hall of Fame, words and emotions could not describe.

I’d be remiss if I did not talk about Tommy John. I’ve been given an opportunity as one of the only players, the only one right now to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, with Tommy John surgery. It’s an epidemic, something affecting our game. It’s something I thought would cost me my career … I want to encourage the families and parents that are out there to understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 and 15 years old. You have a time. Baseball is not a year‑round sport. You have an opportunity to be athletic and play other sports … I want to encourage you if nothing else, know that your children’s desire and passion to play baseball is something they can do without a competitive pitch … They’re competing and maxing out too hard too early. That’s why we’re having these problems. Please, take care of those great future arms.

To Tommy John, I can’t thank you enough for the phone call, whether you were coerced or not. The phone call at the age of 34 years old meant the world to me. Emotionally I’d given up. I thought that no one would wait for a pitcher of my age on the last year of my contract. Thank you for encouraging me. That was a pivotal part of my career to push through what I thought might be a career‑ending.

Johnson said:

I grew up in the Bay Area. I emulated Vida Blue. He was the local left‑handed pitcher I could watch on a daily basis pitching for the Oakland A’s. I would be out in the front yard throwing a tennis ball against our garage door, a wooden garage door. My dad would come out after about half an hour with a hammer, put the hammer down and say, When you’re done playing catch against the wall, make sure you pound all those nails in. He also took the time as a police officer when his shift was over to come in his police uniform and watch me pitch in high school. I never forgot those moments.

When I won my 300th game, it was supposed to be a special moment, and it was. But my son was the batboy that day. I had pitched six innings, was watching the game in the dugout. I was watching his every move in a San Francisco Giants uniform. We were getting closer to the finish of the game. He was standing on the top step. As soon as the last out was made, I watched his emotions. That’s what I took from that game that day. Winning the 300th game was great, but watching how emotional my son was was even better.

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John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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