Martinez experiences magic during Hall of Fame visit
The journey to Cooperstown has been a long time coming for Martinez, who was elected in his 10th-and-final year of eligibility, and he was rapt as Erik Strohl, the Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections, toured him around the Museum.
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“Discipline is key,” Martinez explained, when asked what makes a great designated hitter. “When the player is designated to be the DH sometimes they think they have to hit home runs, but staying true to the type of hitter that I was helped me. I would take a walk if I needed to take a walk. I didn’t change my style because I was a DH, and I think that allowed me to be consistent and do what I did best which was using the whole field, being disciplined and not trying to do too much.”
Despite all of Martinez’s accolades, his journey to Cooperstown was never guaranteed, and he’s quick to appreciate the writers and fans who campaigned so vociferously on his behalf.
“The fans have supported me from the beginning, when I started playing in Seattle. It’s a special relationship between the fans and me,” Martinez said. “I think they really appreciate that I stayed there. Their support has been amazing. It means a lot to me, to make it in as a Mariner, and it’s going to be a special time when they show up here in July.”
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will also be joining Edgar on the Induction Weekend stage, and Martinez spoke fondly of the all-time saves leader against whom he hit an astounding .579/.652/.1.053.
“He was an amazing competitor and it means a lot,” Martinez said, of being inducted into the Hall of Fame with Rivera. “Mariano’s also a Latin player like me, he’s someone that I respect a lot, not only because of his talent but because of what he represents. He’s a great person, he cares about the community and he does a lot for people.”
While touring the archives, Martinez had the opportunity to see a number of historic artifacts, such as Lou Gehrig’s bat, Rube Waddell’s glove and Roberto Alomar’s 1995 San Juan Senadores jersey. The highlight was, of course, the hat Roberto Clemente wore beneath his batting helmet when he recorded his 3,000th hit. Martinez took the cap in his gloved hands and was quiet for a moment.
“He meant so much to Puerto Rico,” Martinez said. “He was a hero to all of us, young and old. To be able to play the game, make it to the big leagues and have a successful career, and to also be able to impact people in need. Receiving that award [the Roberto Clemente Award] meant so much more than any other award that I received.”
“Even just holding this, you can feel the power. It’s almost like it has some magic in it.”
Isabelle Minasian is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum