Pedro feels Dominican pride on induction eve
Plans to deliver his Hall of Fame speech in English and Spanish
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Pedro Martinez was beaming on the eve of his monumental day, and for reasons deeper than the pitching dominance that paved his way to the Hall of Fame.
For Martinez, Sunday's induction isn't merely about him, but his country.
Martinez is about to become the second player from the Dominican Republic to have a plaque in Cooperstown, joining Juan Marichal, who was inducted in 1983. Thirty-two years is a long time to wait for a country that practically views baseball as a religion.
Though Martinez long since mastered his second language of English, he will give his induction speech in two languages.
It was pointed out to Martinez at Saturday's news conference his speech could go in many different ways. But one thing Martinez won't leave on the cutting-room floor is his enormous pride in his heritage.
"I think it's a commitment to Latin America," said Martinez, when asked for a focal point. "I feel the commitment more than anything, as far as what I represent. I think it's important that I go out there and show the level of education that I have. I'm going to be speaking in two languages, which is a little bit more difficult than people think.
"I'm going to be able to actually showcase how we are, how our people feel. I hope that I can express with the moment how much I love, respect and treasure everything I did in baseball, America, the people, the fanbases, the teams, the organizations. I hope I can project the right image at the time I get to the podium. Hopefully, emotions won't [catch] me off guard and make me cut it short."
Martinez's induction comes just days after Colin Cowherd's unfortunate comments on ESPN that disparaged the intellect of players from the Dominican Republic.
"It's only going to be an insult to anyone that falls to that level," said Martinez. "I'm not at that level -- I'm sorry. I'm dealing with polite people that understand human rights, people who understand who we are -- and these are the people I'm paying attention to.
"That person, I don't even know. I never heard of him, I don't want to know him. I want to know the people that represent something, that mean something to us -- the people that understand how we can get better. ... Every once in a while, you're going to get one like me -- that's not afraid to face you guys, to tell you how educated or uneducated I am, how proud I am of becoming who I am."
Both in terms of his pitching prowess and his charismatic personality, Martinez has carved out quite a legacy in baseball -- one that will be immortalized on Sunday.
Martinez has relished the entire Cooperstown experience these past few days. On Friday night, Martinez and his wife Carolina ate dinner with Marichal and his wife.
He has also bonded with the men he will be inducted with: Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.
"These are four guys that respect, admire and look after each other -- to learn something from each other," Martinez said. "I'll tell you what, dealing with Randy, my big brother now, that's what he calls me, 'My little brother.' I call him 'My big brother.' We have been hanging out together. It's great to actually see the kind of person behind the uniform.
"If you watch him and watch me competing, you would never tell that Randy is the kind of guy that he is. John Smoltz, the same way. You didn't know that John Smoltz was one guy that could pull off a prank on you at any moment. You look at them pitching, and [they are] so serious, so committed to the game. You don't perceive that whatsoever the kind of person behind it. I'm the same way. You would never tell that I'm a joker, that I'm someone so happy on days that I'm not pitching when you saw me pitching. It's great to see that. It's great to see the family interact with each other."
And, yes, there was also an interaction between Martinez and Babe Ruth's statue this weekend.
If you recall, Martinez once infamously said in a 2001 news conference, "I don't believe in curses. Wake up the [darn] Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I'll drill him in the [butt]."
Now, Martinez and Ruth are teammates on the best baseball team of them all.
"Yeah, we are teammates -- and I had the opportunity to go over and look at his statue and actually I did apologize for the comments I made that day," said Martinez. "Oh yeah, I am his teammate [now]. He forgave me for what I said. We moved on now. I'm counting on him to go deep and I'm going to get the next eight shutout innings."
One thing Martinez knows for sure is he won't have to wait as long as Marichal to welcome a countryman to Cooperstown.
"I think Vladimir Guerrero is right on the edge of becoming the next Hall of Famer [from the Dominican Republic]," Martinez said. "Guys that are still playing and posting numbers, I think, are going to be in the Hall of Fame -- especially on the first ballot. Guys that if they decided to retire today, they would be Hall of Famers in five years, for sure."