Martinez claims first place on Mariners’ all-time RBI list

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Janey Murray

Edgar Martinez left yet another mark on the Seattle Mariners organization on June 26, 2003.

In a game against the Anaheim Angels at Edison Field, the designated hitter stamped his name in his team’s record books, claiming first place on the Mariners’ all-time RBI list.

He was already 2-for-2 with a walk when he stepped to bat in the top of the seventh with Seattle leading 8-6 and a runner on. He sent the second pitch of the at-bat into the seats, securing the two RBI he needed to overtake Ken Griffey Jr. for the new team record of 1,153.

The Mariners went on to beat the Angels 10-6, as Martinez went 3-for-4 and fell a triple shy of the cycle.

For Martinez, who spent his entire 18-year career with the Mariners, setting records was a familiar feeling. At the time he set the RBI record, he already held Mariners’ records for games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, total bases, extra-base hits, walks and runs scored.

"Playing for one team means a lot to me,” Martinez told the Associated Press after tallying RBI No. 1,153.

“It means the club has wanted to keep me around and I've done a good job. I feel satisfaction from that.”

Martinez also holds team records for offensive WAR and on-base percentage, among others. But his road to big-league success wasn’t always an easy one. He toiled in the minor leagues for seven seasons before becoming Seattle’s everyday third baseman in 1990. Persistent injuries relegated him to full-time designated hitter duties by 1995.

"There have been a lot of great players who have come through here, but Edgar is definitely one guy who's up there at the top," then-Mariners first baseman John Olerud said after the game on June 26, 2003. "He's just been so consistent for so many years, it's amazing. He doesn't slow down. He keeps himself in great shape. And as long as he stays healthy, he's a threat up there at the plate."

In 2002, it appeared that Martinez could be approaching the end of his prime, as a hamstring injury sidelined him for almost half the season.

But in 2003, he returned to form, putting together a seventh All-Star campaign with a .294 batting average, 24 home runs and 98 RBI, including the two that surpassed Griffey Jr.’s RBI total for first place.

"I started this year thinking it was going to be my last year, but I left open the possibility of coming back," Martinez said. "At this point, I'm maintaining the same position because I want to be sure if I can be productive for another year. But I don't want to make a mistake and leave too early."

Martinez played one more season in 2004, finishing his career with 1,261 RBI.

He retired as one of the most decorated players in Mariners history and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019.

"It's always been my desire to do the best I can,” Martinez said. “That's one thing that has kept me going, along with hard work and discipline. One day, toward the end of your career, you look at what you've achieved, and you're surprised."

Janey Murray is the 2019 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series