Edgar Martinez played his entire career with the Seattle Mariners and was always a dangerous hitter, but he had to wait until his final year of eligibility to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Martinez’s numbers were good enough for enshrinement into Cooperstown. During his 18-year career in the major leagues. Martinez batted .312 with 2,247 hits, 514 doubles, 309 homers, 1,261 RBI and 1,219 runs scored.
Here are some fun facts about “Gar”:
Top DH: Martínez is the first player to gain election to the Hall of Fame primarily as a designated hitter. He was a DH in 1,403 of the 2,055 games he competed in (68 percent) and was named the Outstanding Designated Hitter of the Year five times. The DH award was renamed in his honor when Martínez retired after the 2004 season.
Retired number: Martinez became the second player in Seattle Mariners history to have his number retired. Martinez’s No. 11 was retired in 2017, a year after Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24 was honored, ESPN reported. It also made Martinez the eighth player of Puerto Rican descent to have his number retired by a major league team. He joined Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh), José Cruz (Houston), Roberto Alomar (Toronto), Iván Rodríguez (Texas), Jorge Posada (New York Yankees), Bernie Williams (Yankees) and Reggie Jackson (Yankees and Oakland).
Statistical numbers: Once he became a full-time designated hitter in 1995, Martinez began to pile up big numbers at the plate. From 1995 until his retirement, Martinez averaged a .316 batting average, 156 hits, 36 doubles, 25 home runs and 99 RBI.
Inspiration: In Ian C. Friedman’s 2007 book, “Latino Athletes (A to Z of Latino Americans),” Martinez said his love for baseball began after he watched Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente excel during the 1971 World Series.
“After that series, I went outside my house and I started playing in the back yard,” Martinez said. “I was hooked on baseball after that.”
The Double: It’s true that a street outside the southern edge of Safeco Field is named “Edgar Martinez Drive.” But Seattle fans do not need a street to remember Martinez. “The Double” will suffice.
In Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series, the New York Yankees had taken a 5-4 lead against the Mariners in the top of the 11th inning. Trailing in what was the deciding game of series, Seattle put runners on first and third when Joey Cora bunted for a hit and Ken Griffey Jr. singled. Martinez then laced a one-strike pitch for a double down the left-field line, scoring both runners and sending the Mariners to the American League Championship Series.
Fans and critics alike have acknowledged that the Mariners’ victory in this game saved baseball in Seattle.