In 18 years of Major League Baseball, Hall-of-Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez had his share incidents on the mound. He’s thrown at batters. He’s argued calls. Martinez, however, had no regrets with anything he’s ever done on the mound. The only baseball regret the three-time Cy Young winner has, happened on the other side of the foul line.
Pedro Martinez’s Hall-of-Fame career
Pedro Martinez’s began his lengthy Major League Baseball career with the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 1992, appearing in two games and losing one of them. He began his career as a reliever, appearing in 65 games in 1993, but making just two stars.
Martinez was converted to a full-time starter in 1994 when he went 11-5 in his first season with the Montreal Expos. The early part of his career was highlighted by a 1995 game with the Expos when he pitched nine perfect innings against the San Diego Padres, but didn’t get any run support. He came out for the 10th inning and gave up a hit in the bottom of the inning, but wound up getting the win in a 1-0 victory. In his final season with the Expos, Martinez led the league with a 1.90 ERA and went 17-8, earning the Cy Young Award.
Martinez pitched four strong seasons in Montreal before he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the offseason of 1997 for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. With the Red Sox, Martinez flourished, winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 1999 and 2000. He went a combined 43-10 in those two years. With the Red Sox, Martinez went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA. He left Boston in 2004, signing a free-agent deal with the New York Mets. For his career, Martinez was an MLB All-Star eight times and he led the majors in ERA five seasons.
Pedro wasn’t afraid on the mound or in the batter’s box
Pedro Martinez would send a message. He’d throw inside if a batter was too comfortable at the plate. In the early part of his career, he had the reputation of being a head hunter. In one game against the Cincinnati Reds when Martinez was with the Montreal Expos, Martinez was five outs from a perfect game and he hit Reggie Sanders, causing a melee.
Martinez also had the reputation of being a hothead. In one game against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996, Martinez was batting and he charged the mound when he felt pitcher Mike Williams was throwing at him.
“Pedro’s a great competitor,” said former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine. “He stares at hitters and pumps his fist when he pitches, but that’s all part of his competitive nature. After the game, he’s back to being humble. He’s always respectful of his opponents.”
In any case, Martinez was beloved. In Montreal, he said he felt a connection to the city. “I was on my own, but I was doing it in a place where I felt really safe and loved by the people,” Martinez said. “Embraced by the people—people who did not care what colour you were, what you were wearing, how much money you were making. Montreal means the world to me because it’s where I feel I became a man.”
Pedro’s lone baseball regret
Pedro’s lone regret came during the ALCS in 2003 when he was pitching against the New York Yankees. His regret, however, didn’t happen while he was playing.
Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens had just thrown high and inside to Manny Ramirez, who started yelling at Clemens and the benches cleared. Yankees bench coach, 72-year-old Don Zimmer came running toward Martinez, who had plunked Karim Garcia earlier in the game. Martinez grabbed Zimmer by the head and tossed him to the ground. In his book, Pedro, Martinez described the incident.
“When 72-year-old Don Zimmer came barreling toward me, I wish I had not grabbed his head and pushed him to the Fenway grass as he stumbled and fell forward,” he wrote. “Some days I feel more people remember me as the angry young man who pushed down a defenseless old man than as the pitcher who won three Cy Young Awards and a world title and wound up in the Hall of Fame. In my entire baseball career, my reaction to Zimmer’s charge is my only regret.”
Martinez said his reaction to Zimmer was instinctive and he wrote,
“All I did was help him fall faster.”