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Former star pitcher Pedro Martinez on Tuesday afternoon became one of four players newly elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Bill Littlefield offers this commentary on Martinez.
How good was Pedro Martinez?
Over the course of his 18-year career, he had one losing season. He was 5-6 in 2008, but that probably shouldn't count, because at the time he was employed by the Mets.
He won 219 games and lost an even hundred. Wouldn't it have been cool if he'd only lost 99?
His career earned run average was 2.93 — better than Don Drysdale, Carl Hubbell and Warren Spahn, among others, though not quite as good as Cy Young. Martinez did win the award named after Young three times. He also led the National League in ERA once and the American League four times.
At his peak he may have been baseball's most effective pitcher, and even with his greatest days behind him he continued to win about twice as often as he lost.
Beyond all that, he was great fun to watch. He was celebrated for bringing busloads of Latino fans to Fenway Park, but those fans had lots of company in their admiration of Pedro Martinez. He was consistent beyond belief. He was the embodiment of efficiency, and his smile was contagious. Obviously he was a fierce competitor, but he had the marvelous gift of making his work look like fun, which is what the game is supposed to be, at least for the fans.
Beyond all that, unlike a lot of the Boston players Sox fans have had the opportunity to admire over the years, Pedro Martinez had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time. He won 16 games during the 2004 season, another one in the American League Championship Series, and then one in the World Series, the first of those the Sox had won since a left-hander named Babe Ruth had starred for them on the mound.
Now Red Sox fans have been presented with a day for celebrating in the January following a season in which their team finished last. It's only the most recent of the many delights for which Pedro Martinez has been responsible.
This segment aired on January 7, 2015.
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