From young-gun, corner-painting Expo, to history-setting Red Sox starter, to straight-up dugout goofball, Pedro Martinez will always have a warm bullpen seat in any Red Sox fan’s heart. And in honor of his induction to the MLB Hall of Fame, we thought it only fitting to reflect on Pedro’s best moments in his almost-20-year career (on and off the mound). So scroll on and take a 90mph stroll down memory lane:
When he struck out 11 batters in his Red Sox debut
During his debut start with the Sox in 1998, he pitched seven full innings, struck out 11 batters, and allowed no runs against the Oakland A’s. Gotta start strong when you're going to become one of Boston’s greatest.
When Nomar taped him to a pole
Second only to his dominance on the mound, Pedro’s off-field banter was a well-known source of entertainment for players and, well, Jerry Remy. His general goofiness was so prevalent one game that it actually prompted Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to physically restrain Pedro to a dugout pole with athletic tape (probably only half jokingly).
That time he struck out 17 Yankees
On September 10th, 1999, Pedro pitched an absolute killer by striking out not one, not two, not three, okay fine, we won’t go through all 17, but yeah... he struck out 17 Yankees. Arguably more impressive, though, is that this game amounted to a one-hitter -- an unfortunate early home run by Chile Davis.
That time he wore a Yoda mask for, like, no reason
To further his “Pedro as goofball” value, during the 1998 season -- before Episode I made a mockery of the entire Star Wars franchise -- he inexplicably donned a Yoda mask during his ample downtime (read: “Pedro does whatever the hell he wants” time) in the dugout. Cue: GIFs.
The 2003 ALCS Brawl
It’s always shady to commend athletes for physical altercations (quiet down, Canada), but when Pedro straight-up matador-ed Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer in what would be a comical (albeit alarming) brawl to settle a score after a high Roger Clemens pitch against Manny Ramirez, Boston fans rejoiced. While the game was a Yankees victory, the image of a skinny young pitcher letting a 72-year-old angry bench coast tumble to the ground is worth a mention.
When he struck out his 3,000th batter
On September 3rd, 2007, Pedro struck out Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds to clock his 3,000th career strikeout. To put that into perspective, only 15 other pitchers in BASEBALL HISTORY have ever hit that number, and they include dudes like Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Greg Maddux (oh, and Nolan Ryan).
The 1999 All-Star Game strike show
The ’99 All-Star Game was special for a lot of reasons: the unveiling of the All-Century Team, one of Ted Williams’ last public appearances, etc. But not to be overshadowed during a year where Pedro posted insane numbers, he struck out the side during his All-Star inning of pitching. Classic Pedro.
That 1999 ALDS “relief” appearance
Also in ’99, the Sox almost lost to the Indians in Game 5 of the division series. But in relief of both Bret Saberhagen and Derek Lowe (who gave up eight runs in three innings, collectively), Pedro swooped in to strike out eight and give up no hits. The Sox went on to win 12-8. Oh, did we mention that, at this time, Pedro was flirting with the disabled list due to back problems?
Earlier this year, seemingly because he’s got nothing to do but enjoy his Hall of Fame selection, Pedro pitched to fellow Boston sports icon Tom Brady while he took some for-fun practice swings at Fenway. There’s something trippy about seeing so much talent (albeit in two different sports) in the same room doing something that you’d do with your bonehead friends. It also brought to mind the fact that Brady was actually a college baseball player who was drafted (as a catcher) in ’95 by the Expos. If they’d only known.
When he was only the second Dominican in history to be voted into the Hall of Fame
What you already know: Pedro is now officially a Hall of Famer, and some of baseball’s greatest modern stars are from the DR. What you don’t know: Pedro is only the second Dominican ball player in history to join the Cooperstown club. To celebrate, earlier this year, he returned to thousands of cheering home country fans in Santo Domingo so that he could be honored for his career of sterling achievements. From all the way down in the DR to way up here in Boston, let’s all say a collective “thanks” to one of the Red Sox’ best.
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