Board of Directors member Buck Martinez is a devoted member of the Baseball Family. Buck also serves on the B.A.T. Grant Committee and is the play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. He has answered a number of personal questions and baseball questions. Get to know Buck by reading below:
What is your favorite food?
Favorite food is tough to narrow down. I love all cuisines. If I had to choose a last meal it may be Black Cod with Mushroom Risotto.
Favorite vacation destination?
Favorite vacation without question would be the south of France. From Montpelier, France to Monaco.
Name something on your bucket list.
As far as my bucket list, I have always wanted to skydive but never had the nerve. The closest I have come was doing the "Edge Walk" on the CN Tower in Toronto. Too high! Scratch the skydiving.
What is something that no one else knows about you?
Something no one knows about me is that I am a Native California Indian of the Kauruk Tribe in Northern California. And that both my mother Shirley and father John served in the Army during WWII. My mom was actually on the cover of the Stars and Stripes magazine during the war. She was a member of the WAC and stationed at a hospital in Boston. My father was a combat engineer and landed in Cherbourg, France. He participated in the Battle of The Bulge in December of 1944.
What is your favorite memory from your playing career?
My favorite memory of my baseball career as a player was winning the first division title for the Kansas City Royals and finally beating Sal Bando's Oakland A's.
In your opinion, how has the game evolved since you were playing?
As for the evolution of the game, a big difference since I began my career is the speed, size and strength of the athletes. Of course many were part of the PED era and how that may have impacted the game, but the training methods and knowledge of the physics of playing sports in the 21st century has led to the marvelous athletes in the game today. Another interesting aspect of the improvements in the game is the quality of the equipment. From head to toe, the shoes, uniforms, protective gear and the balls and bats themselves has changed the game dramatically.
All that being said, the salaries are the biggest change from when I began my Major League career. In my rookie season with the Kansas City Royals, my salary for the year was $10,000. In 1976 and after 6 years of service, I was making $16,000 and my wife was making $19,000 as a flight attendant with American Airlines. Thank God for television!
Who are a few of your most memorable teammates?
I was fortunate to play for a long time and as a result had a chance to play with many great players and friends. George Brett in KC; Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Sal Bando and Gorman Thomas in Milwaukee; Dave Stieb, Garth Lorg, George Bell and Tony Fernandez in Toronto, all made an impact on me.
What drew you to the game of baseball growing up?
I guess what drew me to the game was the San Francisco Giants and Willie Mays. Growing up in Northern California when the Giants moved west in 1958, I was 10. It was a perfect age to make a lifetime commitment to baseball. My first game was July, 1958, at Seals Stadium with Mike McCormick pitching against Lindy McDaniel and the Cardinals. I can see the green grass as clearly now as I did then.
What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with B.A.T.?
I am proud to be involved with B.A.T. for many reasons, but the number one rewarding aspect of the involvement is that we're are helping out our brothers and sisters. Baseball, as big as it is, is still a very small family that looks out for one another. I think the most pleasing part of the entire program is the current players' financial commitment to the organization. In this day and age when all the salaries are public knowledge, the players are often criticized for being overpaid and greedy, but they are very generous in their support of those that are less fortunate or have fallen on hard times.
What has working with B.A.T. taught you so far?
I didn't really understand the impact B.A.T. had until I traveled to the spring training sites with a recipient and his family. To learn firsthand the magnitude of the assistance and the relief that assistance brings is very gratifying.
What has your experience been being on the grant committee?
As a member of the grant committee, I have heard so many cases of families that have had trouble adjusting to life after baseball no matter how long they played or how much success they had. When you do something for so long, no matter what it is, life is a tough transition when it comes to an end. We hear requests from every sector of baseball which reminds you that people struggle to deal with illness, addiction, unemployment, family death or simply the end of their career. It is hard to turn anyone away, but the mission is to help recipients through troubled times. I think the makeup of the committee is a perfect representation of the entire spectrum of baseball that we are asked to help, including players, spouses, children, widows, scouts, front office personnel and minor leaguers that never realized their dreams.