SEATTLE (AP) — Edgar Martinez spent last week on the East Coast, being honored among the latest electees to the Baseball Hall of Fame thousands of miles from the place he called home for his entire career.
The Seattle Mariners couldn’t wait to celebrate Martinez in the Pacific Northwest.
“Today is a great day,” Mariners’ chairman emeritus John Ellis said. “We finally have him here.”
After a whirlwind of commitments elsewhere, the standout designated hitter was back in Seattle on Tuesday, walking into T-Mobile Park on a red carpet to be feted by the only franchise he ever played for. It was a celebration the Mariners had been hoping to have for the past 10 years. Martinez was in his final year of eligibility when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America finally gave him the necessary votes for enshrinement.
Martinez and his family walked into a crowd of Mariners employees cheering the second player whose plaque in Cooperstown will have a Mariners hat, joining Ken Griffey Jr. Martinez is enjoying the experience even if he’s not one to get emotional, for now.
“My personality is kind of mellow. I don’t celebrate a lot. It’s just my personality,” Martinez said. “But I’ve been able to enjoy friends, ex-teammates, people I know, family members, that part has been a lot of fun. But not a lot of celebration.”
Martinez was elected last week with 85.4 percent of the vote — 75 percent is required for induction. That marked a remarkable turnaround, climbing in his final five years of eligibility after being an afterthought on the ballot early on.
It was a collective effort to get him there. The Mariners organization worked hard publicizing his worthiness, die-hard fans pushed for him on social media, and younger voters made a case for the designated hitter with the help of baseball’s new-age analytics.
“It took a long time for the writers to give more credit to the DH. I think now that probably (will) change,” Martinez said. “I think metrics they look at today, that will also change writers what they think about it. I understood their opinion the whole time ... and kind of accepted that a long time ago. But the good thing is I got the honor to be elected, and I think that’s going to change the view from writers now.”
Tuesday’s event is just the start of what is expected to be a season-long celebration by the organization. Aside from the induction in July, the Mariners are holding a weekend of events in honor of Martinez in August. Still unannounced is whether there will be a statue going up somewhere around the stadium to join the club’s other two Hall of Fame members: Griffey and longtime broadcaster Dave Niehaus.
Martinez said he’s still going through messages from friends and former teammates who reached out after the election results were announced.
Martinez hasn’t started thinking about his induction speech yet, but joked that he wanted to bat leadoff and get out of the way, let Mariano Rivera go last because he was a closer. He’s expected to visit Cooperstown sometime in the next couple of months to get a better idea of what to expect when his July induction arrives.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be nervous about it. The good thing is I have a lot of time to get ready for that,” he said.