Born in the Dominican Republic in 1971, Pedro Martínez made his Major League Baseball debut in 1992. He won the 1997 NL Cy Young Award with the Montreal Expos, and was twice named the AL's top pitcher before helping the Boston Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. The first Latin American hurler to top 300 strikeouts in a season and 3,000 in a career, Martínez was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Pedro Jaime Martínez was born on October 25, 1971, in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic. The fifth of six children, he grew up in a cramped one-room house near the capital city of Santo Domingo. The Martínez boys loved baseball, but the lack of money for proper equipment forced them to use rolled-up socks and the heads of their sisters' dolls for balls.
Older brother Ramon initially was the one headed for stardom: He was tapped to pitch for the 1984 Dominican Olympic baseball team, and afterward he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Short and slight, Pedro nonetheless displayed promising potential as well, and in June 1988 he followed in his brother's footsteps by signing with the Dodgers.
Major League Stardom
With Ramon already established as an All-Star, Pedro made his big league debut at the end of 1992 with the Dodgers. Although he showed impressive form as a relief pitcher in 1993, delivering a 2.61 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, he was traded at the end of the season to the Montreal Expos.
Boasting a fastball that approached 100 mph, along with a sharp curveball and dazzling changeup, Martínez developed into one of baseball's top young starters in Montreal. He threw nine perfect innings before surrendering a hit in a June 1995 game, and the following year he earned his first All-Star selection. In 1997, Martínez turned in an amazing 1.90 ERA and became the first Latin-American pitcher to strike out 300 batters in a season, easily earning the National League Cy Young Award.
Traded to the Boston Red Sox in November 1997, Martínez proved worthy of a huge new contract by notching 19 wins and a 2.89 ERA in his debut season for Boston. But that was a mere prelude for a historic 1999 campaign, in which Martínez topped the league with 23 wins, a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. He was just as dominant the following season, finishing with 18 wins, a 1.74 ERA and 284 strikeouts. Both times, he was unanimously elected the AL Cy Young Award winner.
Wins World Series
The Red Sox ace went a combined 34-8 with a 2.24 ERA from 2002-03, a stretch ended with a heartbreaking loss to the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series. Martínez figured prominently in two standout moments from the series: He threw elderly Yankees coach Don Zimmer to the ground during a Game 3 brawl, and was unable to hold a 5-2 lead in the Game 7 defeat. But he helped the Red Sox finally overtake the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and won Game 3 of the World Series to fuel a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals and end Boston's 86-year championship drought.
After signing with the New York Mets in December 2004, Martínez enjoyed one more quality season before injuries eroded his effectiveness. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2009 All-Star break, relying on his control and guile to go 5-1 with a respectable 3.63 ERA for the NL champions. The eight-time All- Star officially called it quits in December 2011, ending his memorable career with a 219-100 record and a 2.93 ERA. He was the first Latin-American pitcher to top 3,000 strikeouts, his total of 3,154 good for 13th all-time, and his career .687 winning percentage ranked sixth in baseball history.
Martínez became a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington in 2013. He joined the TBS broadcasting team for that year's postseason coverage and later became an analyst for the MLB network.
In January 2015, Martínez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. A few months later, he released a candid, controversial autobiography titled Pedro.
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