For a few minutes on Tuesday, as the telephone refused to ring, Pedro Martinez grew anxious. His well-appointed suite at the Colonnade Hotel was starting to feel a little stuffy.
“It was like we wanted the clock to move faster,” said Carolina Martinez, his wife. “This is the pinnacle of his career and I was more nervous than he was. But God had everything in place.”
When the gates to the Baseball Hall of Fame finally swung open, there was no doubt. Martinez received 91.1 percent of the 549 votes cast by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The 500 votes were fewer than expected but well above the 75 percent required for induction on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“It was like pitching a big game. I always thought I was going to win,” Martinez said after arriving at Fenway Park holding small flags of the Dominican Republic and United States.
Lefthanded strikeout artist Randy Johnson, Atlanta Braves stalwart John Smoltz, and versatile Houston Astros star Craig Biggio also were elected. It was the first time since 1955 that four players were elected by the BBWAA.
Johnson, Martinez, and Smoltz are the first trio of pitchers honored in the same election and raise to 50 the number of players elected on the first ballot.
“It’s a great honor to be part of history,” Martinez said. “The Hall of Fame has got to be so proud right now to have the class that’s going in. To be honest I can’t wait to be near the other three guys going in with me.”
Martinez joined Ted Williams (1966), Carl Yastrzemski (1989), and Wade Boggs (2005) as the only first-ballot Hall of Famers affiliated with the Red Sox.
The selection of Martinez was certain, given his accomplishments. The righthander was 219-100 over 18 seasons with an earned run average of 2.93. He is third all-time with 10.04 strikeouts per nine innings and was a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award.
Now 43, Martinez played with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos before being traded to the Red Sox in 1997. After seven memorable seasons in Boston, he finished his career with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.
Martinez was 60-17 with a 2.25 ERA and 848 strikeouts over 664 innings in his first three seasons with the Sox, a performance peak few pitchers in history can match.
For all the expectations, Martinez was joyous when he received the news, hugging his wife and longtime agent, Fernando Cuza. When he entered a press conference later in the day, he shouted “Hola!” to those waiting.
Over the 32 minutes that followed, Martinez was equal parts humble, proud, mischievous, and defiant.
“The voters have today made me someone really, really, really special,” Martinez said. “It’s something that I never expected when I was playing the game. I took each day personally and enjoyed it. But I never expected to be here today. If I say I dreamt about it, it’s a lie.”
Martinez spoke about following the path of his older brother Ramon, a major league pitcher for 14 seasons. He thanked teammates, former coaches and managers and even opponents he tried to emulate.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 175-pound righthander pitched at the height of what is now known at the Steroid Era, making his accomplishments even more impressive given the unbalanced playing field.
He is the shortest pitcher to enter the Hall since 5-10 Whitey Ford of the Yankees in 1974.
On a day that admitted or suspected drug users Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire failed to gain entry, Martinez was passionate discussing the topic.
“I didn’t run the short fence to get to good health,” he said. “I went the long way, the way I had to go. The way that the integrity of my mom and dad taught me to have led me to.
“I did it clean. I did it the only way I knew.”
Martinez maintained that he never used performance-enhancing drugs despite ample opportunities. He instead pitched with greater passion.
“I carried myself during the game like there was a chip on my shoulder or like somebody was out there to kidnap my mom,” he said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I wanted to be the best I could be every time I went out there. I wanted to embarrass the best team out there. I wanted to; I meant to.
“Sometimes they embarrassed me, but when I got a hold of them, I did embarrass them.”
Martinez regrets that Bonds, Clemens, and others may never join him in Cooperstown.
“My personal feeling is that I’m sad for everyone who should be in there and is not, everyone that probably earned it and is not because of taking the short path,” he said.
Martinez joins Juan Marichal, elected in 1983, as the only Dominicans in the Hall of Fame. The news touched off celebrations in Martinez’s hometown of Manoguayabo and elsewhere around the nation.
“I’ve never forgotten that I lived in a shack, that I came over from a poor community, a poor family,” Martinez said. “It’s one single celebration right now.”
Red Sox principal owner John Henry (who also owns the Globe), president Larry Lucchino, and general manager Ben Cherington were on hand at Fenway to celebrate with Martinez.
“He was one of the reasons we bought the team in the first place,” Henry said. “He was the best pitcher in baseball.”
Former teammate David Ortiz took to Twitter to congratulate Martinez. “Nobody deserves it more,” he wrote.
Johnny Damon, another former teammate, called Martinez’s election “a great day for baseball.”
“I always enjoyed being around him, and I lost a lot of hours of sleep trying to figure out how to hit him,” said Damon. “Those were special days in Boston, and I’m thrilled for him and for Red Sox fans.”
Former Red Sox pitcher and Martinez teammate Curt Schilling finished eighth in the voting at 39.2 percent, his highest total in three years. Clemens was at 37.5 percent.
Lee Smith, who spent part of three seasons with the Sox, stayed on the ballot at 30.2 percent, as did Nomar Garciaparra at 5.5 percent. Onetime Red Sox players Tony Clark, Cliff Floyd, and Tom Gordon were first-timers who fell off the ballot.
Smoltz, the only pitcher in history with 200 wins and 150 saves, pitched eight games for the Red Sox in 2009, his final season.
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