Category Archives: Montreal Expos

Aspirations for greatness, via Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez, in the midst of doing what he did.

Pedro Martinez, in the midst of doing what he did.

If I glance to my left from my desk at work, I can see various things taped up: concert setlists, band photos, album covers, little trinkets to keep me motivated and feeling like I’m at home. One of them is a Pedro Martinez baseball card, circa 2003. He’s pumping his fist, probably after another strikeout.

Thanks to a quick decline in baseball card quality the past couple of seasons, the collecting bug that I rekindled around 2010 has flamed out again, leading me back to the occasional, nostalgic purchase. I still seek out individual Red Sox each year, and I pick up stray cards of players I like on the cheap. In terms of space and money spent, it’s a much more affordable existence.

This weekend, I was tooling around again for the first time in a few months, and sort of instinctively started looking for Pedro cards. Soon enough, I found a 10-card lot of ones I mostly didn’t have, priced around $3 total, and took the plunge. The entire exercise probably took around 10 minutes.

Tomorrow afternoon, there’s a very good chance that Pedro is going to be announced as a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, along with Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio and maybe a couple of others (John Smoltz? Mike Piazza?). It’s a feather in the cap of an incredible career, and it feels nice to know that he’s being acknowledged for his work. But that’s not what I was thinking about when I went searching for those cards, because I don’t think much about the Hall of Fame anymore. Continue reading

Tim Wallach and admirable obsessions

I don't really know why, but I think I'm keeping this.

I don’t really know why, but I think I’m keeping this.

There’s no denying my first impression. I was impressed and intrigued.

As David Roth writes in only that way he can, J. Corey Stackhouse is on a mission to collect every Tim Wallach baseball card ever printed. And when I first read that without finishing to the end, I thought, “interesting. I’m trying to do the same thing,” for a few guys, anyway — Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez, Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice, to name five. I’ve even got a few doubles and triples that I’ve held onto.

But that’s not it, of course. He wants every single one ever printed. And he’s documenting the process. Continue reading

Pedro calling it a career

Pedro, as a young dandy in Montreal.

What has been evident for months will soon be official: Pedro Martinez is retiring from baseball.

Certainly, this is not a surprising development. Pedro last pitched in the 2009 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies, and very well, might I add, and sat out the 2010 and ’11 campaigns.

In the meantime, he’s enjoyed himself in his native Dominican Republic, spending time with his family away from the game:

“It was after I didn’t play for one year and I was able to garden again with my mom and be with my boys and go to baseball games,” Martinez said. “I got attached, I got attached to that kind of life. Being at home, being able to sit on my boat and not worry about tomorrow. It was really what made me lean towards not coming back.”

As I have written extensively before, Pedro Martinez was the most exciting baseball player I’ve ever seen. Truly, he was an artist on the mound, and had the added grace and wisdom to adjust to life as a dealer after arm troubles robbed him of his devastating fastball later in his career. He might not have been the best pitcher in the league at that point, but he was still a thrill to watch.

The honors will come soon enough. Before long, he’ll have a bronze plaque in Cooperstown, his no. 45 will hang on Fenway Park’s right field facade and his career highlights will live on in documentaries, books and memories.

And there is no shortage of amazing memories.

R.I.P., Dick Williams

He'll be missed.

Sad news today, as Dick Williams, who managed the “Impossible Dream” 1967 Red Sox at the start of his career, has died. He was 82.

Williams had a decent playing career, bouncing between the outfield, third base and first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City A’s and the Sox for 13 seasons.

But he made his name as a manger, and he earned the reputation of a tough-nosed dugout leader early. He whipped the Sox into shape and got them into the World Series for the first time in 21 years that first season. Later, he’d take the captaincy away from Carl Yastrzemski, and things got tense enough that he was let go with just nine games left in 1969.

But he wasn’t done. For the most part, wherever he went, he won. He won two World Series with the Oakland A’s in the 1970s, he took the Montreal Expos to their only playoff appearance in 1981, and in ’84, he helped the San Diego Padres win their first National League pennant.

He was rewarded for all this, finally, in 2008, when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On his plaque, he’s wearing an A’s cap.

A legacy of amazing

It’s been a solid week of love letters, essays and expositions on Pedro Martinez, that Dominican Dandy with three masterful pitches and a flair for the dramatic.

His numbers can be perused, of course, on websites and the backs of baseball cards. But I wanted another way to look at them while paying homage to his outstanding career.

So, please enjoy my graphic interpretation of Pedro Martinez, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and all the stops, wins and records between.

Click through for the full-size. And long live the memory of Pedro Martinez, from bean balls to strikeouts, from losses to wins. And thank you all, dear readers, for tuning in for Pedro Week.