Martinez inducted into Seattle's HOF
Mariners fans out in force to show their love for former player
SEATTLE -- There's a special section set aside in one of the rooms at Fran Shaw's house in Portland, Ore., that is home to some of the memorabilia she has collected that remind her of her favorite baseball player.An Edgar Martinez rubber duck. An Edgar Martinez bear. Edgar Martinez bobbleheads, and so much more. A few more memories were added Saturday night, when Shaw, her husband, daughter and future son-in-law drove to Seattle for Edgar's induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame. "It's my Mother's Day present from my daughter," she beamed. Naturally, she was wearing a "Martinez" jersey, as were a lot of the fans who attended the third game of the four-game series against the Rangers. There were white home jerseys, gray road jerseys and dark blue jerseys. A large crowd welcomed Martinez onto the playing field he helped make a reality. They stood as one when he walked to the home plate area on a red carpet, some of them who were at the Kingdome the night Edgar hit "The Double" that drove in two runs and sent the Mariners past the Yankees and into the American League Championship Series. They thanked him for staying with the organization for all 18 years of his Major League career, and he thanked the fans for making Seattle a home away from home. "Coming from Puerto Rico, I had a dream of being a Major League player," Martinez said, "and I cannot think of a better place to fulfill my dream than here in Seattle." Edgar used his five-minute induction speech to thank the fans -- and anyone else he could think of. "The last time I was on this field, when I retired, I was overwhelmed," Martinez said. "I had a lot of things going through my mind. I think I didn't quite thank some people well enough, and that is something I want to do now." So he thanked his former managers, coaches and teammates. He thanked politicians responsible for naming the street on the south side of Safeco Field "Edgar Martinez Drive South." And he especially thanked the fans for their support over the years, "and the way you welcomed me today. Thank you very much." He was introduced by club president Chuck Armstrong, who called him "one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game." And stats would back it up. Martinez, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig are the only players in MLB history with at least 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300, and a career on-base percentage higher than .400. "Opposing teams would be in the dugout watching him hit during batting practice," Mariners bench coach John McLaren said. "After he hit, they'd go in. That's what kind of respect he had around the game. "I you took a poll of the players who played against him, I would think all of them would say he was one of the greatest hitters they ever saw. That speaks enough about his accomplishments. He's absolutely the greatest designated hitter of all time." But the numbers tell only half the story. "He's just a true class act," McLaren added. In 2004, the year he retired, Edgar became the first Puerto Rican player to be honored with the Roberto Clemente Award, given by Major League Baseball for humanitarian service. And, on June 20, Martinez will be inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in Boise, Idaho. The ultimate Hall of Fame -- the one in Cooperstown -- could open its doors to Martinez as early as 2010. "We always talk about him being the greatest designated hitter of all time," McLaren said. "We know that. That's why the (DH) award is named after him. I think he's going to be just like closers in baseball. They're starting to get recognition now for making it into the Hall of Fame, and I think once you guys start talking about it and start realizing the designated hitter's role, and what Edgar achieved in his career, I think momentum will pick up, the recognition will be there, and it should be because he's the greatest designated hitter of all time." But it wasn't just the way he hit the ball that made Martinez a hit with the fans. "He's so darn cute," Shaw said. Nancy Curtis, who has been an Edgar fan since the days when he wore a mustache, said he's been her favorite, "because of his integrity. He is a good lesson for people of all ages." Then she smiled. "It's a thrill to be here tonight."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.