Edgar immortalized at T-Mobile Park

August 12th, 2021

SEATTLE -- Humility for came in the form of a 12-foot bronze sculpture outside PNC Park in Pittsburgh in June 2004. He never met his childhood hero, Roberto Clemente, but visiting the Hall of Famer’s iconic statue during an Interleague road trip during Martinez’s final big league season felt as close to an encounter as he’d ever experience.

When Martinez approached Clemente’s statue, which recognizes his fellow countryman from Puerto Rico, one who had a profound impact on his childhood and inspiration to play baseball, he felt a sense of spirituality.

Seventeen years later, Martinez said that he hopes to impart the same emotions of motivation to young ones who visit his newly minted statue, which was unveiled on Wednesday morning outside T-Mobile Park under a sunny Seattle sky.

“I never met Roberto Clemente,” Martinez said. “But it allowed me to think, it's almost like in some way I got to meet him when I saw the statue. It was a great experience.

“The way that it impacted me, I mean, I saw Roberto Clemente’s statue, watching Roberto Clemente play in the playoffs was probably the biggest reason why I played the game. And I think that having a statue, all the kids can see the statue, learn about the player and be motivated to pursue their dreams. So, I think that's a very positive thing.”

After a lengthy delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mariners finally were able to give Martinez the ceremony he deserved. Plans for the statue were in the works shortly after he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. Sculpting by Chicago-based artist Lou Cella began that fall. But COVID-related shutdowns stalled some of its development, and limitations on in-person gatherings in Washington state until July kept the club from hosting a formal ceremony.

It was worth the wait.

Thanks to a program led by the Mariners’ marketing department, the club hosted Martinez, his family, former teammates and most of the club’s employees for the unveiling along the very street named after the Hall of Famer, Edgar Martinez Drive. That’s where the statue sits, outside the ballpark on the first-base side.

The date of the event, Aug. 11, was a tribute to the No. 11 uniform that Martinez wore for his entire 18-year career, all of which he spent in Seattle. He also was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night before the Mariners’ game against the Rangers.

Martinez’s statue is the third dedicated to a Mariners icon, along with legendary broadcaster Dave Niehaus and fellow Hall of Famer , who sat next to Martinez during the ceremony and helped peel back the curtain to introduce the structure to the public. Mariners chairman and managing general partner John Stanton also helped after giving a lengthy tribute to Martinez.

When the 58-year-old Martinez, often reserved and quiet by nature, finally spoke, he fought back tears, saying to the crowd, “I never believed I would have a statue with my name on it.”

“You see the human side of sports,” Griffey said. “I mean, that's sometimes what we're missing is people think that we're robots and that we don't have feelings. … Just to have a human side of it is pretty important.”

The statue depicts Martinez’s swing on the most memorable hit of his career, one that arguably still defines the Mariners’ franchise: The Double.

Cella vividly captured Martinez’s smooth, one-handed follow through, with the leverage of the swing coming from his legs up, his front (left) foot twisted slightly, and his face staring down the proverbial left-field line, but more literally, into the street.

“I wasn't thinking, ‘humble.’ I was thinking, ‘focus,’” Cella said of the look he was seeking to represent Martinez. “… [Stanton] talked about in his speech, where he talked about how [Martinez] appeared relaxed, but there was that power. So you're trying to get both of that.”

Martinez is in Cooperstown now, and the award for MLB’s best designated hitter is annually presented in his name. But there’s nowhere that Martinez will be more respected and beloved than Seattle, where fans still adore him, perhaps more than any player in franchise history.

His work ethic, his production and, above all, his loyalty resonated so prominently with the fans in this region. And now, there is a tangible bronzed structure sitting at the corner of Edgar and Dave embodying his longevity.