“PEDRO! PEDRO! PEDRO!”
The chants from the crowd were overwhelming as the electrifying Pedro Martinez joined the best players in baseball history and took his spot in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s been 32 years to get to this moment,” Martinez said to the ruckus crowd in Cooperstown, N.Y. on Sunday. “It’s a great moment not just for me, but to the Dominican Republic and Latin America.”
The 43-year-old Dominican pitcher became the 8th Latino baseball player to join the current Hall of Fame – and only the second from the Caribbean country after the legendary pitcher Juan Marichal.
While speaking to the fans, Martinez asked that they don’t view him for the individual trophies he received throughout his career, but for what the moment means for his country.
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“I would like you to see me as a sign of hope for a third world country, for all Latinos,” Martinez said. “Someone that you can look up to and feel comfortable to say ‘I am proud of you.’”
Martinez was joined in the 2015 Hall of Fame class by Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio. Johnson, Martínez and Smoltz earned induction on their first tries, and Biggio made it on the third attempt after falling two votes shy last year.
At the end of his speech, Martinez had Marichal join him on stage to honor their native country – which had to wait 32 years for its second player in the Hall of Fame.
Born in the outskirts of Santo Domingo, Martinez grew up with five brothers and sisters in a one-room home. Baseball became his escape from the island.
He signed with the Dodgers in 1988 and made his major league debut in September 1992 at age 20. The next season he was a regular in the bullpen, posting a 10-5 record in 65 games while striking out 119 in 107 innings, then was traded to Montreal after the season.
After a four-year stint with the Expos that culminated with his first Cy Young Award — he was 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA in 1997 — and with free agency looming, Montreal traded its ace to Boston.
The first Red Sox pitcher to be enshrined, Martinez signed for seven seasons that would endear him forever to the Boston faithful. He won 117 games and two Cy Youngs in hitter-friendly Fenway Park and, most importantly, helped Boston snap an 86-year jinx in his final year with the team. His seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series on the road in St. Louis staked the Sox to a commanding 3-0 series lead en route to a sweep and the team's first title since 1918.
Martinez finished his 18-year career with a 219-100 record and 3,154 strikeouts.
“Us the Dominicans, we have not had a lot of chances like these,” Martinez said during the Spanish portion of his speech. “This is our chance.”
He continued: “The legacy that Mr. Juan Marichal left us, I never thought that I would reach it. I hope that the legacy we are leaving inspires the next generation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.