Born in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic, in 1971, Pedro Martinez was signed as an amateur free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. He was used primarily as a reliever for parts of two seasons with the Dodgers before he was dealt to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields on November 19, 1993.
It was in Montreal that his major league career would truly take off. A key member of the Expos’ rotation in 1994, when the team owned a six-game lead atop the National League East division in August before a strike wiped out the rest of the season, Martinez would evolve into the club’s ace. After registering 14 wins and a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts in 1995, he was selected to his first All-Star Game in 1996 when he recorded 13 victories and struck out 222 batters in 216-2/3 innings.
But it was his 1997 season that was one for the ages. In the midst of the steroid era, when offensive numbers were exploding, Martinez posted a 17-8 record and led the league with a 1.90 ERA. He also topped NL pitchers in complete games (13) and WAR (9.0) and his 305 strikeouts set a single-season franchise record. As a result, he became the first and only Expos pitcher to win the National League Cy Young Award.
Sadly, due to the organization’s financial constraints, the Expos dealt him to the Boston Red Sox following the season. In total, in four seasons with the Expos, Martinez posted a 55-33 record, good for a .625 winning percentage (second-best among pitchers in Expos history). He also registered a 3.06 ERA (fifth-best in Expos history), 20.1 WAR (third-best in Expos history) and struck out 843 batters (fourth-best in Expos history). He continued his dominance with the Red Sox, winning four American League ERA titles and two Cy Young Awards in seven seasons with the club. And during the celebration after the Red Sox captured their first World Series title in 86 years in 2004, Martinez acknowledged Expos fans in a TV interview.
“I would like to share this with the people in Montreal that are not going to have a team anymore,” he said. “My heart and my ring is with them, too.”
It was a gesture that Expos fans have not forgotten.
An eight-time All-Star, Martinez finished his 18-year big league career with the New York Mets (2005 to 2008) and the Philadelphia Phillies (2009). In all, he recorded 219 wins, a 2.93 ERA and is one of four pitchers to complete their career with more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,154) and less than 1,000 walks (760). For his efforts, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.
Martinez has also been very active in charitable endeavors. For over a decade, the Pedro Martinez Charity (PMC) Community Center has been operating in the Dominican Republic to educate and offer opportunities to underprivileged children ranging in age from six to 17. Martinez also runs two charity events – Feast with 45 and The Pedro Martinez Charity Annual Gala – in Boston each year that raise money to support children in his home country.
“When I got the call from Scott Crawford of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum telling me that I was a member of the 2018 induction class, I felt honoured, humbled and a bit surprised. I never expected, when I was playing the game, to be here today. I took each day like it was a dream. I was so proud to play baseball every day and was fortunate as a player to be welcomed with open arms in both Canada and the United States. These countries provided me the opportunity to play the game I love so much,” said Martinez.
“Although I only played four seasons with the Expos, the fans always went out of their way to show how much they cared, appreciated and loved me. There is a huge amount of love and respect between me and the Expos’ fans. I want to thank the people who voted for me. Thank you to all the members of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I would not be here today without my teammates and my family. It is truly an honour to be the fifth Dominican born baseball player to be inducted, along with Vladimir Guerrero, Felipe Alou, Tony Fernandez and George Bell.
“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the other members of the class of 2018 – Lloyd Moseby and Bill Humber. I look forward to seeing everyone in June.”