Pedro moved by Hall of Fame welcome in Dominican
Former Red Sox great enjoys celebration with hometown fans days after election
For years, Pedro Martinez has talked proudly about his attachment to the Dominican Republic, as well as the affection his native country holds for him. Those images became vividly clear in an MLB Network documentary that aired on Tuesday night.
The fourth installment of "MLB Network Presents" was titled "Hall of Fame Pitchers: Smoltz & Pedro," and was built on hours of exclusive footage with both Hall of Famers.
If you thought Martinez was an icon in Boston, the place where he did his best pitching, it goes to another level back home. When Martinez landed in the Dominican on Jan. 10 -- just days four days after he was elected into the Hall of Fame -- the runway was filled with adoring fans.
"Look at the caravan, oh my," beamed Martinez as he exited a plane that had "Pedro Grande" inscribed on it.
In an interview with MLB Network, Martinez was still emotional recounting the scene.
"I got a little sentimental coming out of the plane; that's how special it was," Martinez said. "You could sense the pride of the people just proud of seeing their son make it to the highest level baseball can offer."
Amid that sea of people of the airport were Martinez's closest family members.
"The first thing that came across my mind was to hug my mom," Martinez said. "My brother Ramon, when I looked at him, the sense of pride that he had, he still has that father figure because my father wasn't there. Ramon filled up the hole that wasn't there. After I hugged my mom and my brother and I told them, 'Mission accomplished,' it was like, 'This is a party now."'
For a while, it was a mobile party. Before leaving the airport, the head of tourism informed Martinez that the side of the street where his vehicle was supposed to exit was filled with people.
"No problem," thought Martinez. He was happy to have the car go slowly so he could greet one and all along the way.
Standing up through a sun roof while waving Dominican flags, Martinez was ecstatic. Fans waved their arms and shouted in appreciation of their hero, some on the street, others in footbridges above.
"People couldn't help it but just follow me wherever I went," Martinez said.
Later on, there would be a party attended by some of Martinez's best friends in baseball, including David Ortiz and Vladimir Guerrero.
Ortiz grabbed the microphone and said, "It's an honor to be here with my compadre, my teacher, my professor, and it's an honor for the Dominicans to have another Hall of Famer."
Martinez was simply blown away by his welcome home party.
"That was my biggest gift," Martinez said. "You could choose whatever game, whatever situation, whatever award. I would never get such a big award as that one."