At 2 pm on Tuesday, Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson publicly announced the names of the four newest members who were elected from the 2015 ballot. Three, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and John Smoltz, were on the ballot for the first time. It was the first year in which three pitchers were elected. Craig Biggio, who fell short of election by two votes last year, was named on 82.7% of the ballots. One’s name must be on 75% of the ballots to be elected. This was the first year in which as many as four were chosen since 1955.
Each of the four deserves to have his story told. This article focuses on Martínez. The intelligent, articulate and personable man was raised in a suburb of Santo Domingo in his native Dominican Republic. He grew up in poverty even though both of his parents worked. The love of baseball was natural for Pedro as his older brother, Ramón, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers when Pedro was 12.
Pedro followed his older sibling, and the two were teammates on the Dodgers late in the 1992 season. They were teammates several years later on the Boston Red Sox. The management of the Dodgers did not have faith in the younger Martínez and he was traded to the Montreal Expos prior to the 1994 season.
It was north of the border that Martínez’s greatness as a pitcher was clearly demonstrated. In his final of four seasons with the Expos he won the Cy Young Award.
He showed equal, if not greater, skill as a pitcher in his next seven seasons in the American League with the Boston Red Sox. He was a four-time All-Star and a three-time Cy Young Winner. In his premier season in the majors, 1999, he was the MVP in the All-Star Game. He finished second in the MVP voting to Iván Rodríguez after his superlative season, but would have won the award if two writers had not left his name off their ballots.
Like last year’s Hall of Fame Inductee Tom Glavine, Martínez’s seasons with the Mets were far below his career’s usual outstanding performances. Injuries led him to a 32-33 mark and an ERA pf 3.88 in New York.
Martínez reached the World Series again in his final big league season with the Phillies in 2009.
His career stats were certainly worthy of being named on 91.1% of the ballots in his first year of eligibility. His won/lost (219-100) percentage is the best since 1950. He is third in strikeouts per nine innings and third in strikeout/walk ratio.
He is the second pitcher from his native land, the Dominican Republic, to be elected to the Hall. The first, Juan Marichal, now 77, was elected in 1983. The newly elected pitcher spoke of the meaning of his election, “This is the maximum trophy to a country. I’m so glad to bring to the people something to brag about from this generation. I never saw Juan Marichal pitch, but I read so much about him.” In Spanish, he said, “One Latino more in the Hall of Fame. This goes to them [the people]. I hope they enjoy it.”
In a balloting in which suspected PED users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did not did not increase their votes to any degree, Martínez proudly commented, “I did it clean, the only way I know, the only way mom and dad taught me.”
The four newest Hall of Fame members will speak to the media at a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on Wednesday morning.