Edgar Martinez waited 10 years for Tuesday afternoon. Ten years of his career resume being analyzed and scrutinized. Ten years of wondering if he’d ever get an invite to Cooperstown.
No more waiting. Martinez is officially one of the game’s all-time greats. One of the most beloved players in Seattle Mariners’ history is headed to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
And not a moment too soon.
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Martinez will be officially enshrined this summer in the 2019 Hall of Fame class after receiving 85.4 percent of 425 total votes — easily surpassing the 75-percent threshold required to earn induction on his 10th and final year on the ballot.
“I didn’t know exactly how I was going to feel, but it’s an amazing feeling when you get the call and you find out you are going to be elected to the Hall of Fame,” Martinez said during a conference call with local reporters. “It’s a special moment and something that I can share with the family and people from Puerto Rico and the fans in Seattle. So it’s very special.”
With him in this year’s Hall of Fame class are Lee Smith, Harold Baines, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera, who is the first to be unanimously selected after surpassing the 99.7 percent of votes Ken Griffey Jr. received in 2016.
Martinez also joins Red Ruffing (1967), Ralph Kiner (1975), Jim Rice (2009) and Tim Raines (2017) as the only players to be elected in their final turn. If Martinez wouldn’t have made it this year he would have fallen off the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot and would have had to hope for induction through the Today’s Game Era committee.
This day looked like it would never happen after Martinez received 25.2 percent in 2014, followed by 27 percent in 2015.
But Martinez has never grown weary for waiting.
“It makes me think of how fast everything went all those years,” Martinez said. “When you are playing the games you aren’t thinking, ‘OK, I want to be in the Hall of Fame.’ You just play, and then all the sudden you are elected.
“I kind of accepted that the process is what it is. I tried to concentrate on the positive side and think that just to be mentioned alongside some of these players and be elected, it’s a great honor.”
Paramount pushes from the Mariners, his peers and deep analytical dives into his career had hundreds of voters re-thinking their stance on Martinez, as well as the impact of full-time designated hitters on the game. He ascended to within 20 votes of induction last year, which had him feeling confident 2019 could be his year.
Martinez’s voter support increased by at least 10 percentage points year over year over each of the past four election announcements.
Now he’ll join former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players in the Hall of Fame who will feature a Mariners cap on their bronze bust in Cooperstown’s museum. Griffey made sure to campaign for Martinez during his acceptance speech three years ago.
Others who played for the Mariners who are now in the Hall of Fame include Gaylord Perry, Rickey Henderson, Rich “Goose” Gossage and Randy Johnson, though none of them went in as Mariners.
Griffey told Martinez shortly after the announcement that he was glad to finally have some company in Cooperstown from Seattle. Alex Rodriguez tweeted his congratulations, as well, calling Martinez his mentor.
Martinez was asked who a few of his mentors were in getting him to Cooperstown. He mentioned former Mariners manager Lou Piniella, as well as his cousin and former big leaguer Carmelo Martinez. Carmelo persuaded Edgar to sign with the Mariners for a $4,000 bonus as a 20-year-old out of Puerto Rico in 1982.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to sign,” Edgar said. “I had a job and I was going to school and I was playing semi-pro. I didn’t think taking the risk for the amount I was getting was worth it. He was the one who told me to sign and that I had to take the chance.”
Almost 40 years later, few are revered in Seattle as much as Martinez, who spent all 18 years of his career in a Mariners uniform. Scout Marty Martinez discovered him during a semi-pro game, when Edgar had some off time from his job supervising at a furniture store and his night job at a General Electric factory.
Edgar joins Roberto Clemente (1973), Orlando Cepeda (1999), Roberto Alomar (2011) and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (2017) as Hall of Famers who grew up in Puerto Rico, even though Martinez was born in New York.
Martinez didn’t make his big-league debut until he was 24 and didn’t play his first full season until he was 27, but he compiled an incredible career that included seven All-Star appearances, five Silver Sluggers and two American League batting titles.
The Mariners retired Martinez’s No. 11 jersey in 2017 and it rests alongside Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 displayed prominently past left-center field at what is now T-Mobile Park. Next to that is Edgar’s Cantina in left field, just off of Edgar Martinez Drive, which used to be Atlantic Street.
Oh, and then-commissioner Bud Selig announced at Martinez’s retirement ceremony in 2004 that MLB was renaming the American League’s top DH award to the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.
Yeah, he’s a Seattle treasure.
“It’s a very special relationship,” Martinez said of Seattle fans. “The fact that I stayed there and I felt supported through all those years, even from the beginning. It’s been a great relationship and they have shown so much support through the years. Even the last 10 years I had been waiting for the call, they showed a lot of support.”
He’s also considered one of the most potent right-handed hitters who has ever played, compiling a career slash line of .312/.418/.515 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage).
The last player to equal each leg of Martinez’s slash line was Ted Williams. Only five others have accomplished that and all are in the Hall of Fame – Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth and Dan Brouthers.
So maybe it’s only fitting that Interstate-90 starts at the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston and ends at Edgar Martinez Drive in Seattle.
Both directions now point to Cooperstown.
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
Edgar Martinez, in his 10th and final year on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot, joins what was 325 players total enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, headquartered in Cooperstown, New York. He’ll be officially inducted during a ceremony there this summer.
He’s also one of five former Mariners players in the Hall, although only Ken Griffey Jr. is in with a Mariners cap. The others were enshrined with other clubs.
Years in Seattle
Ken Griffey Jr.
Pat Gillick (executive)
Rich “Goose” Gossage
New York Yankees
Dick Williams (manager)
San Francisco Giants
Edgar Martinez is one of four players to earn induction in the 2019 Hall of Fame class, joining Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina. Here’s how the Baseball Writers Association of America votes shaped out (at least 75 percent is needed):
Mariano Rivera 425 (100 percent)
Roy Halladay 363 (85.4)
Edgar Martínez 363 (85.4)
Mike Mussina 326 (76.7)
Curt Schilling 259 (60.9)
Roger Clemens 253 (59.5)
Barry Bonds 251 (59.1)
Larry Walker 232 (54.6)
Omar Vizquel 182 (42.8)
Fred McGriff 169 (39.8)
Manny Ramírez 97 (22.8)
Jeff Kent 77 (18.1)
Billy Wagner 71 (16.7)
Todd Helton 70 (16.5)
Scott Rolen 73 (17.2)
Gary Sheffield 58 (13.6)
Andy Pettitte 42 (9.9)
Sammy Sosa 36 (8.5)
Andruw Jones 32 (7.5)
Michael Young 9 (2.1)
Lance Berkman 5 (1.2)
Miguel Tejada 5 (1.2)
Roy Oswalt 4 (0.9)
Plácido Polanco 2 (0.5)
Rick Ankiel 0
Jason Bay 0
Freddy García 0
Jon Garland 0
Travis Hafner 0
Ted Lilly 0
Derek Lowe 0
Darren Oliver 0
Juan Pierre 0
Vernon Wells 0
Kevin Youkilis 0