BOSTON (CBS) — Pedro Martinez will go down as one of the greatest athletes to ever wear a Boston uniform, and in just a few months, he’ll take his place among the fellow greats of the game in Cooperstown, New York.
Martinez pitched for the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies over his 18-year career, but said nothing could ever compare to playing for the Boston Red Sox.READ MORE: Norton Man On Scooter Dies After Collision With Another Car
“There’s no other place like Boston to play ball. There isn’t a bigger deal than Boston, for the Bostonians to see,” the future Hall of Famer told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche for Sunday night’s Sports Final. “The Patriots are great, the Bruins are great, the Celtics and Larry Bird, but at the same time, it’s not the Red Sox. The way the field is; it’s the most traditional and unique field you can play on.
“Boston is unique in every aspect,” he said. “I played in the Eastern Division in the National League and American League, been to every other stadium out there. St. Louis is pretty good, the New York fans are pretty good. But you look at all those places, and Boston is the most unique place you can play.”
Martinez dazzled Boston fans with a 117-37 record in his seven years with the Red Sox, including an unforgettable 1999 campaign in which we went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and led the American League with 313 strikeouts. He started the All-Star game at Fenway Park that season, earning game MVP honors by striking out five of the six batters he faced. He went on to unanimously win the Cy Young that season, and was snubbed as the league MVP.
But nothing made him more proud than delivering a World Series title to Boston in 2004, ending an 86-year drought and putting to rest a curse that he didn’t actually believe in.
“To me, that’s the achievement I set myself to go and get,” said Martinez, who went 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA during the 2004 postseason. “I committed myself, and probably took on a bigger challenge than I thought. It was easier said than done.
“My God, did I put a load on myself,” he said. “I hated coming off the mound. A lot of the times I didn’t come out and it didn’t bite me. Sometimes, refusing to come out hurt me. It caused me to lose some games. But that’s the way I wanted it. I wanted the challenge.”
Martinez finished his career with a 219-100 record and a 2.93 ERA, and put up those amazing stats as many of the batters he faced were on something to give them a little extra pop in their bat. But Pedro said he wouldn’t have had it any other way.READ MORE: Man Allegedly Pulls Knife On Fellow Red Line Rider After Mocking COVID Mask
“A lot of people ask me how I felt to pitch in the Steroid Era. ‘You pitched when those guys were juiced.’ That’s just the way I wanted it,” he said. “I wanted to face the toughest challenge out there and prove what I was made of. And that’s what I did.”
Now, he’s counting down the days until he’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on July 26. Aside from a list of names he needs to make sure he thanks, in true Pedro fashion, he plans to speak from the heart during his speech.
“I’m going to say it the way I feel it that day,” he said.
Martinez wants to be remembered as the guy who proved all the doubters wrong, and hopes others will take that message and accomplish their own dreams.
“[I hope to be remembered] as a sign of hope for the less fortunate, for the ones who want to fight for a goal. I want to be a role model to society, someone who brought hope to those that don’t get those chances every day,” he said. “The ones that are capable, who will fight for it and are willing to be better, I want to be someone who brought a sign of hope that they could achieve anything they wanted.”
“The history is going to be in Cooperstown; go read it. When I go away, I want to be remembered as someone who stood up and said, ‘I can,’ and got it,” he said.
And if you can’t make the lengthy trip to New York in a few months, don’t worry. Pedro knows his fans will be supporting him wherever they are.
“They don’t need to show up anywhere. I could be left alone there and I know the kind of love they gave me here and all over the world. God bless them all,” he said, pointing to the sky.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine Passport Program Could Be Coming To Massachusetts Soon, Baker Says