Martínez fans five to win All-Star Game MVP
The starters in the All-Star Game are the best of the best. On July 13, 1999, Pedro Martínez bested them all.
Six batters. Five strikeouts. A record breaking performance. An easy choice for All-Star Game MVP.
With the game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox ace, who had a 1.80 ERA at home, earned the starting nod and took the mound in front of the hometown fans.
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Martínez was dominating the majors in nearly every statistical category. Among all qualified pitchers at the break, he sat first with 15 wins, 184 strikeouts, a 7.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 2.10 ERA.
Taking the mound against the National League’s best hitters, Martínez wasted no time falling right into the pitching groove he sat in all season. Martinez started the inning facing Barry Larkin, who worked the count to 2-2 before swinging at a changeup on the outside corner. The next batter, Larry Walker, struck out looking at a 97 mph fastball before Martínez got Sammy Sosa on a fastball high and inside to end the first inning.
Martínez returned for the second inning to face cleanup hitter Mark McGwire. He retired McGwire by throwing a high fastball past him. The next batter, Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Williams, was the only player to reach base against Martínez after an error by second baseman Roberto Alomar.
Martínez wasn’t rattled. Jeff Bagwell came to the plate and worked a full count before Martínez got him swinging, picking up a double play to end the inning when Williams was caught stealing.
“That’s Pedro Martínez,” Walker said to the Hartford Courant. “He’s right now probably the top pitcher in the game, and he will be for a while. He’s dominating with all his pitches, and he’s throwing them all for strikes.”
Martínez wasn’t just striking out any batters. Three of his five strikeouts came against future Hall of Famers in Larkin, Walker and Bagwell. The other two came against sluggers in Sosa and McGwire who finished their careers with 609 and 583 home runs, respectively.
“I really don’t have much to say,” Martínez told The Boston Globe. “Three pitches. Fastball, changeup, curve. I’m not sure how I used them.”
Martínez became the first pitcher to strike out the first four batters in an All-Star Game and earned the win in the American League’s 4-1 victory thanks to RBI from Jim Thome and Cal Ripken Jr. in the first inning.
The game also garnered attention for a moment featuring another Boston legend when Ted Williams was honored pregame as part of the All-Century Team celebration. Martínez said Williams called him into his suite and signed a game program for him, according to the Society of American Baseball Research.
“Out of all the All-Star Games I’ve been in, this is probably the most exciting one I’ve been to,” Martínez told The Globe. “I didn’t know that Boston was going to be so much on top of the All-Star Game.”
In the second half of the season, Martínez went 8-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.07 on his way to his second of three career Cy Young Awards.
Martínez finished his career with eight All-Star selections and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Evan Gerike is the 2022 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development