Martinez: Today felt like a Pedro Day


BOSTON - As Pedro Martinez noted shortly after the Red Sox retired his number at Fenway Park, it's been a while since there was a Pedro Day.

But Tuesday was certainly a Pedro Day.

As the lyrics to Coldplay's "Clocks" - "nothing else compares . . ." rang over the Fenway loudspeakers, Martinez' career highlights and statistics flashed across the video board up above the bleachers.

That was followed by chants of "Pedro! Pedro!" before the man himself was introduced to a raucous ovation.

Nomar Garciaparra, who couldn't be in attendance made an appearance via video board before players including Tim Wakefield, Lou Merloni, Trot Nixon, Curt Schilling, Orlando Cabrera, Luis Tiant, Dwight Evans, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastrzemski were all brought out to join in the festivities.

Then it was David Ortiz who made his way out on the field, said a few things about "one of the best players and person" he's met in his life, and gave the signal to the folks standing out in right field to unveil the No. 45.

It's official: Pedro Martinez is a part of Fenway Park forever.

The ceremony concluded with Martinez throwing out the first pitch to - who else - Jason Varitek.

The first pitcher to ever have his number retired by the Red Sox, Martinez is widely considered to be the best there ever was here in Boston. And now people who attend games can point to that no. 45 and remember the good ol' days when Martinez was on the hill - and also remember the type of guy Martinez was on and off the field.

"Once they see the number, just think about having fun," Martinez said after his number retirement ceremony. "Because I am fun. I am having fun. And I love to have them here [in my heart]. I hope that they have the same feeling when they see that number, 'Pedro?! That's Pedro! Oh Pedro is in a parade. Pedro is always happy . . . you never know what Pedro is going to be.' So just go out there, have fun, remember me as a fun guy, a sign of hope, a sign of someone that was always happy and grateful of the things that he had the opportunity to [do]."

That word "hope" is one that Martinez has used numerous times over the last few days, and a word he hopes will latch on to his legacy. He's not concerned about what the statistics next to his name say about where he ranks all-time.

"It would be a bigger honor to be referred as there is a sign of hope for everyone in this world," Martinez said. "There is someone that unexpectedly made it further than he ever dreamed because I never gave up. So I want to represent hope instead of greatness and achievement. I would take hope and faith and determination and hard work and dedication. There is a symbol of dedication, there is a symbol if integrity, there is a sign of hope for everyone that is coming up. Especially for me, people in Dominican Republic, in a shack, and coming from a Third World country. A sign of hope that I'm going to represent for those people is even bigger. So that would make a lot more sense to me than the individual achievements I have . . . that's what I want to be remembered as. Not really the guy that went out there and posted whatever numbers."

The hope that Martinez represents is something that will last. Unfortunately, his nights on the mound in Boston could not last, though who can forget the feeling in and around the ballpark on those nights? While Martinez didn't take the mound Tuesday night (though the Sox probably would have been better off if he did), the feeling leading up to the ceremony had a similar feel to a Pedro Day - at least it did to Martinez.

"It's been a while where there was a Pedro Day specifically," Martinez said. "If I'm not mistaken, I didn't feel that since the last time I pitched here. But today, I felt the same little movement. The kids walking, and the cars parked a little further down. And the kids are rushing into the stadium, and the people are happy and excited and they want to be there. That is the kind of atmosphere that I feel every time I pitch here. And today was the day that I felt it. Other occasions, yes they were special. They all are. But today, Pedro Day, was the same electricity that was built around every game that I pitch. And I love that. That's what makes Boston unique. Now when I was standing by the podium out there, I could hear someone [yell], 'I love you Pedro!' and that's the only stadium where you can probably be able to hear that and feel that kind of passion that they [have for you]. It's a unique feeling being here in Boston and dealing with this kind of fan base."

Tuesday was certainly Pedro Day here at Fenway Park, and it's the least everyone can do for a player who gave them so many memorable days himself.

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