On July 26, 2015 Pedro Jaime Martinez (born 1971) was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, becoming only the second native of the Dominican Republic to be so honored.
As one of the dominant pitchers of his or any era, it is fitting that he follows Juan Marichal, the great San Francisco Giant pitcher of the 1960s who is still revered in the Caribbean for both his power and guile. Martinez pitched for five teams in a career that spanned from 1992 to 2009, having his most success with the Boston Red Sox (1998-2004) where, among other achievements, he helped pitch the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years (2004).
Martinez was slight of build at 5’ 11” and 170 (or fewer) pounds but not unlike the versatile Marichal he had a sneaky fastball and devastating control of at least five types of pitches, all of which he combined to make him one of the best strikeout pitchers in major league history; he punched out over 3,000 batters while winning over 60 percent of his decisions with a lifetime record of 219-100.
He won the Cy Young Award (Best Pitcher) three times and in 1999, his most dominant year (23-4, 2.07 earned run average) he finished second in the American League most valuable player race. He achieved all these records in an era in which hitters, some of whom were fuelled by performance enhancing drugs, were in the ascendancy.
Martinez and Marichal before him, as well as stars like Roberto Clemente in the 1960s and Juan Carlo Stanton today, represent the changing demographics of baseball with an influx of Latin players from the islands and Central and South America. The Dominican Republic has been an incubator of major league talent for several decades now and while Martinez is the second Dominican in the Hall of Fame he surely will not be the last. As Martinez said in his induction speech, a speech that was celebratory and serious at the same time:
“Don’t look at me as numbers, as baseball, as achievements. I’d like you to see me as a sign of hope for a third world country, for Latin America, someone you can look up to to say, ‘I’m proud of you.’
At the end of his speech, Martinez called Marichal out of the crowd to stand with him on the stage. The succeeding generations of Dominican ball players will look up to Pedro Martinez, emulating him as he did his predecessor Juan Marichal.
—David C. Ward, Senior Historian, National Portrait Gallery
Pedro Martinez / Susan Miller-Havens / Oil and beeswax on birch panel, 2000 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Gloria Trowbridge Gammons and Peter Warren Gammons in honor of Pedro Martinez, whose baseball career has been paralleled by his life-long work promoting educational opportunities for less fortunate children in America and his own Dominican Republic