He was the last of the four 2015 Baseball Hall of Famers to give his speech, but the buildup, as Randy Johnson finished his speech, was pretty impressive.
Former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez did a little dance as he waited, and after Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred had read the words on his plaque out loud to the crowd, the enthusiastic crowd waved flags and shouted Pedro’s name from a huge sea of Boston and Dominican Pedro fans at the Clark Center field on a hot summer day.
There were red K signs in the backdrop, just like the ones that used to pop up at Fenway Park during Martinez’s illustrious tenure as a Red Sox. Martinez, wearing a blue suit with a red, white, and blue tie, like the Dominican flag, and a patch of the Dominican coat of arms on each shoulder, thanked all of his children and family members and acknowledged his wife Carolina for bringing some 100 family members together, some traveling from the Dominican.
Martinez spoke first in English and then in Spanish. He said he wanted to emphasize “two words – God and thank you.”
Most of Martinez’s speech, which lasted more than 35 minutes, the longest of the day, was a thank-you to all of the people and family he came across. He called his older brother Ramon “my second father.”
He said he probably didn’t win the 2002 Cy Young award because he didn’t make one start, deciding he wanted to give it instead to a rookie pitcher, Josh Hancock, on Sept. 26 of that year. Hancock died on April 29, of 2007 while with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Martinez told the story because he felt bad that his brother Jesus never had the opportunity to pitch in a major league game and felt there should have three Martinez players represented in major league baseball.
He had a couple of funny lines, including one for fellow inductee Randy Johnson, who is 6-feet-10: “Randy Johnson: the Big Unit, my brother from another mother. I just want to ask you, how does the weather feel when you stand up?”
As he ended his speech, he called Juan Marichal, the only other Dominican player represented in the Hall, to stand with him as they held up the Dominican flag.
Martinez said it was Father’s Day in the Dominican and said this induction was “a gift for you.”
“I would like to thank members of the media who voted us in. I can’t thank you enough,” he said.
Both former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette and one his coaches in Montreal, Tommy Harper, were in attendance.
“Dan Duquette, he was crazy to trade twice for the same little player and both times he was looking great. He wanted me a third time, but I was too old. You were good looking without me but I shaped you more,” Martinez said of Duquette, who traded for him when he was the GM in Montreal and then when he was in Boston.
He spoke highly of former Expos manager Felipe Alou, Harper an Duquette. He also singled out catcher Jason Varitek, who could not make the ceremony because of his duties in Red Sox trade talks. He also mentioned his longtime trainer, Chris Correnti, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz.
But he continued to emphasize, as he did on Saturday, that he wanted to be seen as a vehicle of hope for his countrymen in the Dominican.
“It’s great honor to be here. It’s great moment not only for me, for my family, it’s a great moment for the Dominican Republic and Latin America,” Martinez said.
Martinez, who pitched for the Red Sox from 1998 to 2004, made a point to express thanks for his years in Boston.
“Boston, I don’t have enough words to say how much I love you,” he said.
Martinez was enshrined along with Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, and Johnson as the Class of 2015.
After the ceremony, Martinez’s plaque was to be installed in the museum at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The words on his plaque, chosen by representatives of the Baseball Hall of Fame, read as follows:
“Featuring an electric arsenal of pitches that vanquished batters during an era of high octane offense, the fiery righty from the Dominican Republic owned the inside part of the plate with an exploding fastball and confounding change-up. Led league in E.R.A. five times and strikeouts three times en route to three Cy Young Awards and eight All-Star Selections. First pitcher to retire with 3,154 strikeouts in fewer than 3,000 innings. Won 219 games with an astounding .687 winning percentage. Posted 117-37 record in Boston, helping to lead Red Sox to 2004 World Series Championship.”