The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to Pedro Martinez on Sunday, welcoming in the greatest pitcher that we will ever see.
Three Cy Young Awards (should have been four), a pitching triple crown (should have been an MVP), eight All Star appearances — one of which was the greatest performance of all-time, earning him MVP honors — a five-time ERA title winner, a perfect game (that isn’t recognized as a perfect game because the Expos couldn’t score a run) and a World Series champion with the most iconic team in the best sports city in America.
The days that Pedro pitched were a can’t-miss, city-wide event. That moment at the end of Red Sox games when Fenway Park rises to their feet, cheering loudly when there’s two outs and two strikes, hoping for a strikeout to end the game, take that and multiply it by a hundred. That’s what it was like every time that Pedro had two strikes on a batter. It’s an electricity in the ballpark that was unprecedented, and we may never see anything like that ever again. Buying a ticket to a Red Sox game before the season started was like buying a lottery ticket, hoping and praying that a Pedro start would fall on that day.
The trade that brought Pedro Martinez to Boston was franchise-altering. Dan Duquette, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough credit for the impact that he made on the Red Sox organization. Some probably don’t remember this, but Pedro wasn’t exactly thrilled when he was traded to the Red Sox. He wanted to win. He was one of the most intense competitors that the game has ever known. But Duquette made a promise to Pedro that he would transform the Red Sox into a contender, and he did. In doing so, he gained Pedro’s trust, and that’s what led to a six-year contract extension with Boston, changing the course of Boston sports history forever.
Pedro dominated an era that was dominated by performance-enhancing drugs. Not only was he the best pitcher in an era that featured video game-type offensive numbers, but he was above and beyond better than anybody else. And that dominance was front and center during the 1999 All Star Game, which was essentially a metaphor for the peak years of his career. Making the most prolific hitters in the game look like a bunch of Little Leaguers, Pedro left his mark on the game in just two innings of work in an exhibition game. After his historic 1999 season, Peter Gammons did a piece where he polled major leaguers on who had the best fastball, the best changeup and the best curveball, and the answers all came back to one name: Pedro Martinez.
On Tuesday night, Pedro Martinez will have his number retired by the Red Sox at Fenway Park, becoming the first pitcher in the team’s history to have their number retired by the historic franchise. In the future, plenty of pitchers will be compared to him, but there will never be another pitcher like him. He is in a league of his own, and he enters Cooperstown wearing a Red Sox cap with the utmost pride. There are many words to describe him. Legendary, dominant, iconic, competitor, champion, and hero. Today, we add another one to the list: immortal.
Congratulations to Pedro Martinez, Hall of Fame Class of 2015.