Former Red Sox hurler Pedro Martinez will be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y., where space already has been prepared for his bronzed image that will hang forever in the hallowed Plaque Gallery.
Once Martinez was named as an honoree by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Jan. 6, it triggered a series of events to prepare and produce his plaque, beginning with the selection of a photo by Hall of Fame officials, followed by the sculpting of his image and the casting of his plaque from molten bronze, all of which took place in Pittsburgh.
Here, in a series of pictures all taken at the Matthews International bronze foundry in Pittsburgh, is a glimpse at the many steps involved in the making of Pedro’s plaque.
It will be revealed on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The making of the molds
Matthews International’s John Piotrowski (atop a flask) uses his feet to tamp down sand essential in producing the mold that ultimately will turn into the bronze plaque. The original clay sculpture of Martinez’s face is buried face-up in the sand.
Approximately an hour later, with the sand now cured into a partial mold, Piotrowski flips the flask and cleans off the backside of the pattern of Martinez’s face (and those of the other three Hall of Famers). To the left, an empty flask waits for Piotrowski to cover the backside of the molds and reload with sand to complete the process.
The molten bronze, wheeled from a nearby furnace in two crucibles, is checked to confirm it has reached the ideal pouring temperature of slightly more than 2,000 degrees Farenheit. Each crucible holds enough bronze to fill two of the four players’ molds housed in the flask on the floor.
Matthews workers pour fiery bronze into the molds of the four Hall of Famers. Pedro Jaime Martinez, born Oct. 25, 1971, in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic, is immortalized in bronze on a factory floor in Pittsburgh.
Hours after the pour, foundry supervisor Tom Knouff (back to camera) reaches into the flask and pulls out the hardened bronze plaques. Cooperstown’s induction ceremony may be some four months, but the Class of ’15 is essentially ready to go.
Knouff loads the bronze plaques onto a dolly and prepares to wheel them to a nearby workbench, where he will trim off the attached excess gates, or channels, that were part of the pouring process. The cleanup is the final stage before the detailed finishing work each plaque requires before shipment to Cooperstown.
It’s a blast
Doug Wood, a veteran tooler and finishing specialist, collects Martinez’s plaque after it has completed a 60-second dash through a sandblaster. The sandblasting procedure is just one in a series of treatments the plaque will receive in a final-day finishing process that takes just over two hours.
Painting the corners
Mindy Ellis, who has sculpted the faces of the last 76 Hall of Fame inductees, works in tandem with Wood to put the finishing touches to Martinez’s plaque. The fussing and fine-tuning all take place before Wood wheels Martinez to a back bullpen at the foundry for a final coat of clear lacquer spray.
Ellis reviews her handiwork while Josh Rooney (center rear), director of sports and entertainment marketing at Matthews, huddles with workers who are producing an in-house video. Martinez’s plaque, weighing just under 25 pounds, is ready to be shipped to Cooperstown. Says Ellis: “He just shines.’’