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Peter Abraham | Beat Writer’s Notebook

Covering Pedro meant more bylines, and lessons on baseball

At an interview session at Fenway Park Tuesday, Pedro Martinez thanked reporters for voting for him in the Hall of Fame electionAP

When Pedro Martinez left the Red Sox to sign with the Mets as a free agent in 2004, it was a huge story in New York. As one of the beat writers covering the Mets, I was thrilled.

Writing about Pedro was sure to get me more stories in my newspaper, The Journal News, and in those pre-web site days, newspaper space was gold. Spring training was the subject of much anticipation.

There was a little trepidation, too. Word out of Boston was Martinez had become difficult to deal with from a media standpoint and could be moody. I only knew of Pedro from covering some playoff series, much too small of a sample to draw any conclusions.


Any concern proved unfounded. Getting a chance to be around Pedro for four seasons was akin to an amusement park ride. There were spins, bumps, and twirls but in the end a lot of fun.

Martinez, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday, is one of the smartest people in baseball. Very few owners, executives, managers, coaches or players can approach his baseball acumen or ability to express it. That he spoke English as a second language was amazing considering his unfailing ability to make spot-on analogies or use just the right word to make a point.

He also possessed the ability to evaluate teammates like a veteran scout. Any feature story on another Mets player was incomplete without approaching Pedro to get his take. He could look at a rookie in spring training and know in a few days whether the player would help the Mets that season.

As a starting pitcher, Martinez had a set routine and there were certain days we didn’t see him. But unlike Derek Jeter, another New York star I was fortunate to cover , Martinez was free with his opinions and wasn’t afraid to make controversial comments. He enjoyed jousting with the writers and challenging us with questions.


(Boston Globe) Pedro Martinez talks about how proud and joyful he is to be elected to the Hall of Fame. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)
(Boston Globe) Pedro Martinez talks about how proud and joyful he is to be elected to the Hall of Fame. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)

Being around Pedro was like an advanced class in pitching strategy and mechanics. He was happy to talk about how he set up hitters or changed speeds to get poor swings. National League hitters were largely unfamiliar with him after seven years in Boston, and Pedro used his changeup in 2005 to a point that it seemed almost unfair.

Martinez was 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA in that first season with the Mets and made the All-Star team. He won only 17 games in the three years that followed, missing roughly 50 starts because of injuries.

There were days Martinez was the verge of tears because of his body was failing him. He wanted to help the Mets and was unable.

There was one particularly funny moment. In the final week of the 2005 season, Martinez called a group of beat writers over to his locker and handed out business cards. They read, simply, “Pedro J. Martinez, righthanded pitcher.” There was a Mets logo at the center and a phone number at the bottom.

“If you guys need me, this is the number to call,” he said. “But only for an emergency.”

That offseason, the Mets made a November trade to obtain slugger Carlos Delgado. While not an emergency, it seemed like a good reason to call and get Pedro’s opinion on the move.


Pedro, to my surprise, picked up the phone after one ring.

“Pedro, this is Pete Abraham from Westchester,” I said.

“Wha-a-a-at? I told you only to call in an emergency,” he said.

“Well, you guys just traded for Carlos Delgado,” I replied.

“Ah, well that is something. What can I do for you?” he said.

After a quick interview, Pedro revealed he was on the deck of his yacht and drinking a beer. He invited me join him and I quickly said I would be on the next flight.

“You can come, you just can’t bring your notebook and ask me questions,” he said with a loud laugh. “All you can do is have some El Presidentes with me.”

I declined. Might be the dumbest decision ever.

In the years since, Pedro has been gracious with his time and seeing him elected to the Hall of Fame was great fun to write about. He’s good for baseball and always has been.

Circle July 26 on your calendar. His speech at the induction ceremony in Cooperstown is sure to be memorable.

(Boston Globe) Pedro martinez talked about how proud he is to do what he did without taking PED’s. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)
(Boston Globe) Pedro martinez talked about how proud he is to do what he did without taking PED's. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.