Jubilant Pedro shares induction with Dominican fans
After bilingual speech, ace joined by Marichal for symbolic finale
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Pedro Martinez was trying to get a few last winks of sleep on Sunday morning when he came up with what turned out to be the final, brilliant pitch for his Hall of Fame induction speech. Just as the roaring crowd thought Martinez had hit all the high points, he reached back for the perfect ending to the day and the weekend.
"I would like to do something that will probably break the protocol, but I would like to give my people an opportunity that we don't get very often, and we had to wait for 32 years for us to do. So I would like to invite Mr. Juan Marichal to come forward and give the Dominican Republic a gift they waited 32 years to get," Martinez told the audience, which was estimated at 45,000.
Marichal, who before Martinez was the only Dominican to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, stepped forward. Together, Martinez and Marichal lifted their country's flag up and the response was a deafening roar of approval.
As it turns out, Sunday was Father's Day in the Dominican Republic, making Martinez's perfect day seem even more perfect.
Martinez had an outline in his mind of what he wanted to say, but he didn't read off a script. In many ways, that was also how he operated as a pitcher, making spot-on adjustments during the course of a game or an at-bat.
During his speech, Martinez went with what he called "pure creation," including his epiphany shortly after dawn.
"It must have been 6:30 in the morning," said Martinez. "I was having a hard time catching that last hour or two of sleep and it occurred to me that today on Father's Day, I don't think the Dominican Republic will have a better image than having me and Marichal, who cleared the way for all of us to Cooperstown, on Father's Day, [holding the flag].
An hour before the ceremony even started, Dominicans were gathered by the hundreds, banging drums and roaring "Pedro, Pedro, Pedro," while they waved their flags.
"To be out there and give them the opportunity to see their first two sons in the Hall of Fame, I think it was the greatest gift I could probably come up with for Father's Day in the Dominican and for the Dominican population," Martinez said.
Martinez went bilingual for his induction, deftly going back and forth between his native tongue and the second language he also mastered long ago.
"Hola! Hola!" Martinez hollered to start his speech.
Before long, he would go on to pay one of his most heartfelt tributes to his big brother Ramon, whom he called a "second father." And his wife, Carolina, for helping him ease into retirement.
Martinez was particularly reflective in talking about some influential guests who made it to Sunday's induction, including Rafael Avila, the man who signed him to the Dodgers. There was a shout-out to Dan Duquette, the general manager who traded for Martinez both when he was with the Expos and the Red Sox.
While the video montages showed all the appropriate highlights -- the six no-hit innings in Cleveland in the '99 Division Series, the '99 All-Star Game, and so on -- Martinez stayed away from specific moments and focused on the people who meant the most.
There was recognition to four players he teamed with in Boston - Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Kevin Millar. Martinez cited Felipe Alou as his most influential manager.
He thanked all five teams and cities he played for.
And there was also a humorous acknowledgment of the fast friendship he made with Randy Johnson since the two were elected into the Hall of Fame in January.
"Randy Johnson, the Big Unit. My brother from another mother! How much I enjoyed getting to know you and having you coming over to this class with me. Thank you, bro, you are special. I just want to ask you a question: How does the weather feel when you stand up?"
In a unique twist, Martinez had a sports coat that displayed a patch of the symbol from the Dominican flag on one shoulder, and the American flag on the other.
"I wanted to make sure that I recognized both sides, the Dominican Republic, because I was born there, a lot of the people, as you saw, showed up from all over the country and the Dominican Republic and different places to support one of its sons being inducted into the Hall of Fame,," said Martinez. "I'm a U.S. citizen, I respect America. I wanted to recognize America. I wanted to give America the same props I gave the Dominican Republic because without America, I wouldn't be standing in Cooperstown, New York, being inducted into the Hall of Fame."