Dan's Dugout: Pedro turns Induction into Party • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Pedro turns Induction into Party

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COOPERSTOWN — It was tough to tell the Hall of Fame Induction from the World Baseball Classic.

It's a party for Pedro at the Hall of Fame

It’s a party for Pedro at the Hall of Fame [@George Napolitano for Latino Sports]

Hundreds of fans, scattered in pockets throughout the vast field adjacent to the Clark Sports center, waved Dominican flags, chanted Pedro’s name in Spanish, and rang cowbells long before the celebrated pitcher was called to the podium.

When he arrived, dressed in a jacket with a Dominican coat of arms on one side and a similar American emblem on the other, the frenzy of celebrating admirers could have been heard at the actual Hall of Fame, a mile away as the crow flies.

Considering it’s always best to save the best for last, Pedro’s position as the fourth man to be inducted could not have been better.

Like his fans, who journeyed north from the Dominican but south from Boston and Montreal, he was in a party mood. He was quite likely the first inductee ever to dance at the podium.

The three-time winner of the Cy Young Award, speaking in both Spanish and English, was by far the

Pedro Martinez had his best years with the Red Sox

Pedro Martinez had his best years with the Red Sox

funniest and most ebullient of the new quartet.

At one point, he said John Smoltz had more “stuff” than he and Randy Johnson combined. Then, looking at the 6-foot, 10-inch Johnson, the diminutive Martinez said, “You’re my brother from another mother.”

Martinez mentioned that July 26, the date of the induction, was Father’s Day in the Dominican Republic. As a result, he dedicated his speech, and his induction, to all the fathers in his home country.

Though he joined Juan Marichal as the only Dominicans in the Hall of Fame, he predicted Monday that more will follow. He specifically mentioned Vladimir Guerrero, Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, and Albert Pujols.

“I don’t want to wait 32 more years before another Dominican gets in,” he said, referring to the time lapse between Marichal’s induction and his own.

Pedro Martinez joined Juan Marichal as the first Dominicans in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Pedro Martinez joined Juan Marichal as the first Dominicans in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Martinez, who broke into the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers before moving on to the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, and New York Mets, said it was unreal that all three pitchers in the Class of 2015 were subject to trades early in their careers.

“For us, I think somebody got frustrated along the way,” he said.

When he was with Montreal, Martinez played for a Dominican manager, Felipe Alou. He once went to him with a special request.

“We were going to play the Braves and I wanted to face one of their Big Three — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, or John Smoltz. Just watching them turned my career around.

“I took a little something from each one: I took power from Smoltz, finesse from Glavine, a quiet head from Maddux, and good mechanics from all three of them.”

Pedro noted that in 1997, the first of his three Cy Young Award seasons, he kept the three Braves from extending their monopoly over the trophy. Maddux won four straight from 1992-95 followed by Smoltz in 1996. Glavine won it in 1991 and 1998.

“Competing against Pedro brought out the best in you,” Smoltz said at the Doubleday Field Legends

John Smoltz had some great battles against Pedro Martinez

John Smoltz had some great battles against Pedro Martinez

Roundtable Monday. “You knew you were going to get some epic battles.”

In all head-t0-head matches, Smoltz owned a 5-4 edge on Martinez.

As for Craig Biggio, who came up as a catcher before shifting to second and later the outfield, none of the three pitchers in the Class of ’15 was an easy mark. “I was a hitter,” said the lifelong Astro, “and didn’t like the three of you. But I had the utmost respect for you all.”

Cooperstown comments:

Teased all weekend about his bald pate, Smoltz said, “On our plaques, we all have the same height and we all have the same hair” . . .

John Smoltz is the only pitcher with 200+ wins and 150+ saves

John Smoltz is the only pitcher with 200+ wins and 150+ saves

A starter and closer for the Braves, Smoltz put in a Hall of Fame endorsement for former teammate Dale Murphy, whose resume includes 398 home runs, five Gold Gloves, and back-to-back MVP awards. “I looked up to Dale,” he said. “He exceeded what I had thought of him. Being half of that person was what I hoped I would be.” . . .

Although Biggio was hit by a pitch 285 times, he said Johnson never hit him — promoting the towering lefty to say, “Would somebody get me a ball right now?” . . .

Randy Johnson revealed that the Seattle Mariners would have shifted to Tampa Bay had they not suddenly revived in 1995 . . .

Biggio believes Jeff Bagwell, who played next to him for 15 years in the Houston infield, deserves his own

Craig Biggio was the lone position player picked this year (Bob Nesoff photo).

Craig Biggio was the lone position player picked this year (Bob Nesoff photo).

niche in Cooperstown . . .

Johnson endorsed former Seattle DH Edgar Martinez, whom he called the best hitter he ever played with . . .

Had Johnson not chosen USC over the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him, he might have won up in the same rotation with Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz . . .

More than 50,000 spectators, a bigger crowd than last year, packed this compact Central New York hamlet for the ceremonies.

 

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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