Pedro Martinez Honored At Agganis Arena Thursday Night by Boston Baseball Writers
There was another celebration of Baseball Hall of Famer-to be Pedro Martinez in Boston Thursday night, this time at BU’s Agganis Arena, as the 43-year-old Red Sox icon was honored with the Judge Emil Fuchs Award for service to the game of baseball at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner.
“Everytime Pedro comes to Boston it seems to be another party,” Martinez said during his acceptance speech.
A party that was well-justified. For seven seasons in Boston from 1998-2004, Martinez dominated baseball, going 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA and 0.978 WHIP, winning two Cy Young Awards. The Koufaxian run ended with the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series, breaking an 86-year drought.
“I’m extremely honored to represent Boston,” said Martinez. “To represent baseball; to represent the Dominican Republic, my country; my family, my beautiful wife, Carolina, my daughter, Ashley.”
The honor came on the heels of Martinez being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 91.1 percent of the vote. It was announced Thursday — to the surprise of few — that Pedro would be enshrined in Cooperstown in a Red Sox uniform. He becomes the 12th player to enter the hall with the Sox as his primary team. Martinez’s percentage of votes was fourth-highest in that group behind Carl Yastrzemski (94.6), Ted Williams (93.4) and Wade Boggs (91.9).
While the body of work speaks for itself, Martinez knew the writers were the ones responsible for getting him in. A lesson learned from some of the best players from his era like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa — just to name a few — who have yet to gain entry because a large percentage of baseball writers with votes believe their connections to performance enhancing drugs make them unworthy of a call to the hall.
“The writers, who elected me into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, as a sign of respect,” said Martinez. “And I didn’t have to knock you down.”
The last comment, of course, referring to Martinez’s knack for brushing hitters when he felt they were in too deep a comfort zone for his liking at the plate.
The Judge Emil Fuchs Award is given out by the Baseball Writers Association of America Boston chapter for ‘long and meritorious service to baseball’. It is named in honor of Emil Fuchs, who was the owner of the Boston Braves from 1923-35.
Martinez, one of the most charismatic figures in the history of Boston sports, came to Boston in November 1997 when then-GM Dan Duquette — also honored tonight as Executive of the Year for constructing a Baltimore Orioles team that won its first division title in 17 years in 2014 — traded prospects Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Montreal Expos in exchange for the pitcher.
It proved to be one of the most pivotal trades in Red Sox history. Martinez ‘made the Red Sox relevant again’, as CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam noted in the opening statements. He proved to be one of the key pieces — if not the key — to the building of the Red Sox core that brought a World Series to Boston.
When the Red Sox hosted the 1999 All-Star Game, it was Martinez who stole the show. Throwing two innings, he struck out five of six batters he faced. It remains one of the signature moments of the history of the event, which started in 1933.
“Growing up in New England, I never got to see Bill Russell play basketball, I didn’t get to see John Kennedy speak nor Robert Frost write poetry, but I did get to see Pedro Martinez in the 1999 All-Star Game,” said Duquette, a native of Dalton, at the event. “When he embarrassed Sammy Sosa, like it was a schoolyard game, that was the real highlight.”
Martinez played 18 seasons in the major leagues between the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies. He won 219 games, won three Cy Young Awards and was an eight-time All-Star.
It’s been almost 13 years since Massachusetts native Dan Duquette was fired as general manager as the Red Sox.
More than a decade removed from the firing, Duquette was back in Boston, honored by Boston’s baseball writers as the 2014 Executive of the Year. Duquette has served as the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles since 2012. Under his watch, the O’s have averaged 91 wins per season, making the playoffs twice and winning the AL East in 2014.
Duquette deflected much of the credit to manager Buck Showalter, who was on hand Thursday as well, receiving the Manager of the Year Award from the chapter.
“Whenever my head hits the pillow at night, I know [Showalter] is going to get the most out of his roster for that game and have all his players ready,” said Duquette on Showalter after accepting the award. “Personally, I’ve never had more fun working with a guy than Buck Showalter.
1975 Red Sox Honored
This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Red Sox 1975 run to the World Series and Carlton Fisk’s famous walkoff home run off the left field foul pole at Fenway Park in Game 6 of the Fall Classic. Even though they lost to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games, that home run remains the signature moment from that World Series, considered by some the best World Series ever played.
Bernie Carbo and Bill Lee were on hand to reflect on that team and that run. Lee won 17 games for the Sox that season and threw 14 1/3 innings over two appearances in that World Series. Carbo hit two pinch hit home runs in the series, the latter of which came in Game 6 to force extra innings, setting up Fisk’s iconic 12th-inning bomb.
Carbo, who played 12 seasons in the majors from 1969-80, said the ’75 Sox was the greatest team he ever played on. Lee believes Fisk’s home run should’ve ended the World Series, as opposed to forcing a seventh game.
“Game two was where we had the rain delay, 90 minutes,” said Lee. “How many guys goes eight innings and have a rain delay of 90 minutes, then the starter comes back and faces [Johnny] Bench, [Tony] Perez and [George] Foster?”
Holt Wins Harry Agganis Award
The Harry Agganis Award, given out yearly to the Red Sox top rookie in honor of the former BU star athlete, was awarded to Brock Holt Thursday night.
Holt played 106 games for the Red Sox in 2014, hitting .281 with four home runs and 29 RBI. He hit .341 through his first 30 games with the team and finished eighth in the voting for AL Rookie of the Year, which was won by Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.
Agganis, a native of Lynn, starred in football, basketball and baseball at BU and was the school’s first All-American. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns out of college, he opted to play baseball for the Red Sox to be closer to home. Agganis spent parts of two seasons with the Sox (1954-55) before he died of a pulmonary embolism at 26.
Other players honored Thursday night included Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (Red Sox MVP), former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester (Red Sox Pitcher of the Year), Red Sox relievers Burke Badenhop (Red Sox Unsung Hero Award) and Koji Uehara (Red Sox Fireman of the Year), Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (Jackie Jensen Award), Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (Greg Montalbano Award), Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield (Good Guy Award), Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli (Tim Wakefield Award), former Red Sox catcher Dan Butler (Lou Gorman Award), Miami Marlins relief pitcher Steve Cishek (Ben Mondor Award), Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton (Ted Williams Award) and Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (Tony Conigliaro Award).