Seattle Mariners Legend Edgar Martinez: A Hall of Fame Career

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 2: Edgar Martinez
SEATTLE - OCTOBER 2: Edgar Martinez /

Mark your calendars, Mariners fans. On January 22nd, 2019 the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) is expected to announce the balloting results for candidates eligible for the 2019 MLB Hall of Fame induction.

Most Seattle Mariners fans are eagerly awaiting these results, as well as Edgar Martinez himself, and have been for the better part of a decade–at least since 2014. However, sometimes fans and even professional sports columnists question the cognitive nature of some of these voters.

For example, in 2016, three mystery writers didn’t fill the bubble next to the name of Ken Griffey, Jr. This created quite the uproar on Twitter leaving people to question who these writers were and what business they had casting votes.

The same will likely repeat this year with the likes of Mariano Rivera. Someone out there will probably leave the bubble blank next to his name. At least this year we will know who it is. Getting back to Edgar, he currently sits at 97% according to the 2019 Hall of Fame Tracker, and now we know who decided not to vote for him.

Edgar Martinez made his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners in 1987 appearing in 13 games. In that time, he had 43 at-bats with 16 hits (five doubles, two triples). It wasn’t until 1992 where he broke out and hit .343 with 46 doubles, earning him his first Silver Slugger Award–a feat he would accomplish four more times in his career. He would be voted to the All-Star Game 7 times in his career.

According to Edgar’s Hall of Fame candidate biography, “Edgar is the only right-handed batter with a career slash line of at least .310/.410/.510 while recording more walks than strikeouts. Additionally, Edgar is one of only nine players in Major League history to have hit at least 300 home runs, 500 doubles, and 1,000 walks while posting a batting average of .300 or better and an on-base percentage of .400 or better.” Those other eight players? You guessed it–Hall of Famers.”

Now, let’s look at 1995, the truly magical year every Mariners fan who was alive at the time. That year, Edgar managed to slash a .356/.479/.628 with an OPS of 1.107. Oh, he also scored 121 runs, hit 52 doubles (including The Double) and drove in 113 runs. I don’t know about you, but watching Mr. Clutch hit The Double and hearing Dave Niehaus call the play puts chills down my spine. If you’re like me, you got the “My Oh My” VHS for Christmas that year. In fact, I got it twice from two different uncles.

In an interview with ESPN, Edgar was asked about The Double and where it defined him as a player in Mariners’ history.

"“A lot of people remember that double when they talk about my career. I’d say, yeah, that would define my career,” Edgar responded."

One pitcher he had quite a bit of success against is his ballot counterpart, Mariano Rivera. According to Fangraphs, Edgar was the most successful hitter against Mo, where he slashed a .579/.652/1.053 in 23 plate appearances. These numbers include two home runs, three doubles, and six RBIs. What is more impressive is what Edgar did in his first 15 plate appearances against Rivera:

I wonder why Mariano even attempted to pitch to Edgar, but I’m sure Edgar didn’t mind considering those numbers. In a press conference, Mariano was asked who was the toughest batter he ever had to pitch against.

"“The toughest – and thank God he retired – Edgar Martinez,” Rivera commented. “Oh my God. I think every pitcher will say that because this man was tough. Great man, though – respected the game, did what he had to do for his team. That’s what you appreciate about players, when a player come and do what is right for the game of baseball, for his team and teammates.”"

A handful of quotes from former teammates and opposing players praising Edgar can be found here.

With both Mariano Rivera and Edgar Martinez on the ballot, it is likely the two will be inducted together-as friends, competitors, and men who genuinely care about the communities whom they represented.

A great man, Edgar Martinez is indeed.

In 2004, Major League Baseball renamed the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award to the Edgar Martinez Award. This award is given to the most outstanding designated hitter of the season. It is an award that Edgar won five times in his career. He is one of eight players to have an award named after them–all but him are enshrined in Cooperstown.

What is more impressive is his character outside the foul lines.

His community involvement with Seattle Children’s Hospital was a cause that was important to him and his wife. In his final year of playing professional baseball, his dedication to community involvement and true sportsmanship earned him the Roberto Clemente Award in 2004. He was the first Puerto Rican to win this award. That same year, the Mariners launched the Edgar Martinez Endowment for Muscular Dystrophy Research.

Three years later, Edgar was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame who, according to their Facebook page, “Recognizes individuals and organizations from the world of amateur and professional athletes who, through their humanitarian efforts, distinguish themselves as role models in the community.”

Edgar, Mr. Clutch, Gar: Mariners fans around the world are rooting for you one more time in your last plate appearance on the ballot. Your dedication to Seattle, the fans, the community, and to baseball can no longer go unrecognized.

On and off the field you have been a champion and a person who has made the baseball world and world, in general, a better place. You continue to instill your knowledge of hitting to those who wear the Seattle Mariners uniform today. We’re pulling for you. We know you will knock in that final run, this time crossing the plate at Cooperstown.

“The Northwest is very important to me. My wife is from here and it has been a great place for our family to live. It feels good to be able to give back to the community and help make a difference.” -Edgar Martinez

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