SEATTLE -- For Edgar Martinez, patience once again has paid off. And this time, the reward is a plaque in Cooperstown.It took 10 long years of waiting, a decade of wondering, but one of the greatest designated hitters to play the game is headed at last to the National Baseball
SEATTLE -- For Edgar Martinez, patience once again has paid off. And this time, the reward is a plaque in Cooperstown.
It took 10 long years of waiting, a decade of wondering, but one of the greatest designated hitters to play the game is headed at last to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
• Complete Hall of Fame coverage
Martinez, who spent his entire 18-year Major League career with the Mariners, got the call on Tuesday, his phone ringing as he sat in a New York hotel where he's spending the week on a family vacation.
On the line was Jack O'Connell, the Baseball Writers' Association of America's secretary-treasurer, informing Martinez he had been named on 85.4 percent of the BBWAA ballots and thus exceeded the 75 percent threshold needed for baseball's ultimate honor.
"I didn't know exactly how I'd feel," Martinez said. "But it's an amazing feeling when you get that call. It's just a special moment and something I can share with my family, the people from Puerto Rico and fans from Seattle. It's very special."
For the 56-year-old Martinez, who already has a street and a restaurant in his name in Seattle as well as his retired No. 11 jersey hanging on the center-field facade at the newly renamed T-Mobile Park, Tuesday's news capped a career that spanned the only four playoff runs in Mariners history.
Martinez doesn't show his emotions easily. This is a man who waited to break into the Majors until he was 24 years old, didn't get a full-time starting gig until he was 27 and then proceeded to build a reputation as one of the most-respected right-handed hitters of his generation.
• Martinez's career timeline
He wound up spending his entire 18-year career in Seattle and he credits Mariners fans with helping get him into the Hall.
"The support from the Mariners and their fans has been incredible, not only through my career, but it's been amazing the last 10 years and even intensified the last few years," he said. "The Mariners put so much work into my candidacy, it's been incredible and it made an impact. The fans, the way they supported me all these years, all that makes a difference. I truly believe I'm here and being inducted because of the Mariners and the fans."
As teammates Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez garnered much of the attention during his early years in Seattle, Martinez quietly went about his business, racking up seven All-Star appearances, two American League batting titles and five Silver Slugger Awards.
While others drew the attention, Martinez drew walks. When he wasn't hitting laser line drives, he was working counts and driving pitchers nuts. Martinez's career line of .312/.418/.515 includes the fourth-highest on-base percentage in MLB history by a right-handed hitter.
Only five players with more than 6,000 career plate appearances -- Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams -- have matched each leg of that career slash line. His career OPS+ of 147 is tied for 42nd all-time with Jim Thome, Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell and Willie McCovey, all Hall of Famers.
• Edgar's top 11 Mariners moments
Martinez's impeccable patience paid off again in his own Hall of Fame pursuits, as he worked the count full once again -- taking the full 10 years of eligibility before getting over the hump in his last chance. He wouldn't change any of that journey now.
"I'm more mature now," he said. "I think I enjoy it more at this point with my family and the way my kids are older now. It just has a lot of meaning, even more meaning now. The wait worked out well for me."
Martinez will be joined at the July 21 induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., by legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and representatives of the late Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico more than 14 months ago, as well as fellow right-hander Mike Mussina.
Rivera was named on 100 percent of the ballots, breaking the record of 99.32 percent set by Griffey three years ago, while Halladay also had 85.4 percent. Both were on the ballot for the first time this year. Mussina came in at 76.7 percent to round out the four-person class.
Martinez had incredible success against all three new Hall of Famers. He was 11-for-19 with three doubles and two home runs against Rivera, 8-for-18 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs against Halladay and 23-for-75 with five doubles, two triples and five homers against Mussina.
The success against Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the game, is particularly stunning.
"I knew Mariano sticks with his strengths," Martinez said. "One key for me, I didn't try to do too much against him. If I did, even ahead in the count, I would fail. So I had to simplify and just try to make contact and whatever happens, happens. It never felt like a comfortable at-bat. Mariano was one of the most fearless competitors."
Rivera tipped his cap again to Martinez on Tuesday.
"Edgar was such a great hitter. And a great person," Rivera said. "Especially in my young career, early in my career, I got two strikes on Edgar and the third one would never come up. It would never show up. ... But I'm so grateful that a man like Edgar was able to accomplish the pinnacle every player wants, and that is the Hall of Fame."
Martinez had a chance to take notes on the Hall of Fame process when Griffey -- his teammate for 10 seasons in Seattle -- was inducted two years ago. Now the two will team again in Cooperstown as the only inductees wearing Mariners caps on their plaques.
"I finally got some company," Griffey told Martinez on MLB Network shortly after the voting was announced. "I'm excited. I was just as nervous for him. This is one of those days that the Mariners family will never forget."
Martinez's path was much longer than Griffey's. With voters dealing with a crowded ballot and questions of whether DHs deserved Hall of Fame consideration, Martinez drew voting percentages of 36.2, 32.9, 36.5, 35.9, 25.2 and 27.0 in his first six years on the ballot.
But as voters began trending younger and became more aware of the importance of numbers like OPS+ and the uniqueness of Martinez's combination of power and on-base percentage, his momentum began building. He jumped to 43.4 percent in 2016, then 58.6 and 70.4 the past two years.
Now Martinez has cleared the final hurdle, and all that's left is the induction ceremony, parade and platitudes this July in Cooperstown.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.