Red Sox Hero, Hall of Fame Pitcher, Miami Resident
By Steven Joseph
My earliest sports memory is being 6 years old and watching my father cry after his beloved Boston Red Sox lost their post-season series to the Oakland Athletics for the right to play in the World Series in 1990. I was too young to understand the defeat was just one of many devastating “almost but not quites” in the Red Sox history. But what neither of us knew then was that Pedro Martinez, a cornerstone of the 2004 Red Sox incarnation that would end the franchise’s 86-year championship drought, was most-likely laughing.
Pedro was 19 at the time, a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system playing In Montana, just a short time away from being called up to Bakersfield’s minor league outfit. From there he went to the majors as a reliever for Los Angeles, then a Cy Young (baseball’s highest honor for a pitcher) winner as a starter for the Montreal Expos, before being traded to the Red Sox in 1998. In his six years in Boston, he’d win two more Cy Young’s and help bring Boston its first World Series title since 1918. Martinez then landed in New York, as a Met, where his career wound down before he finished his Hall of Fame career with the Phillies. Pedro was one of Major League Baseball’s most entertaining players, on the field and in the locker room.
The Man Behind the Glove
Already one of baseball’s hottest commodities, Martinez arrived in Boston with a reputation as big as his heart, described by one of his pitching mentors as “that of a lion.” Martinez’s success was surprising to some because he was undersized and unheralded as a scrawny teenager from the Dominican Republic, consistently fighting to prove doubters wrong and outgrow the shadow of his brother, Ramón. Martinez was known positively for his tenacity and accuracy, and negatively for several well-publicized inside pitches, and their resultant scrums and fallout. But in Boston, he also met and married a volleyball player at Boston College. Pedro and Carolina Martinez are a fairly private couple. “We’re really very simple,” Carolina told South Florida Opulence, and Pedro added, “A day spent fishing, sleeping, and eating was a good day, and I’ve had a lot of good days.” They bought a home in Miami as an oasis from harsh winters and harsher Boston media scrutiny. “It’s the closest, weather-wise, to the Dominican Republic. In Boston it would be 2 p.m. and I’d already be getting sleepy, it gets dark so early,” Pedro said. Miami serves the dual purpose of being a short flight to the Dominican Republic. “We’re different in some ways, but we’re similar in matters of the heart. What we care for, how we want to treat children, and we both love the Dominican Republic,” said Carolina.
A Softie for Fauna
Now that Pedro is retired, life has slowed down. “It used to be a spectacle. It was a circus every five days when he’d pitch.” Carolina described his pre-game ritual, “I was amazed by his focus. I’d be ready to go to the park and he’d be out back trimming his flowers.” Wait. Trimming his flowers? A man with the heart of a lion and once nicknamed “Señor Plunk” for hitting
batters with a baseball loves flowers? “He was raised in nature, from the mango trees to his mother’s garden,” Carolina said. Pedro’s love of flowers runs so deep that there are flowers
hidden in his painting in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
With his recent induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and the publication of his autobiography, Pedro, there is a noticeable uptick in media attention, “but this time, it’s very different. It’s different when they’re not trying to get you at every turn,” said Pedro. But even the positive attention can be overwhelming at times. “His comfort zone is loneliness and the sea,” said Carolina. Indeed, Pedro spends the majority of his time fishing on his custom-made Contender, named “Kissing Bandit.”
Pedro and Carolina also devote much of their time to the Pedro Martinez and Brothers Foundation. The main program is called “Hay Poder en Aprender (There Is Power in Learning)” and benefits disadvantaged kids in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. “I knew the work would be very good for him,” said Carolina. “I always knew he’d make an excellent mentor. He’s such a great teacher. And the kids love him.” Pedro strives to instill a positive message in everything he does, telling the kids, “Everything I do now, you need to do in the future, when you become me. As for me, as I move into Middle Age, I want to open the window on Pedro the human being.”
Note: Steven Joseph, the article’s author, has donated the proceeds from this article to thePedro Martinez and Brothers Foundation.
For more information or to donate, visit: haypoderenaprender.org