- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every summer, when the team took its midseason picture, Martinez’s teammates knew they would be waiting for the All-Star pitcher to arrive from the clubhouse. Moments after Martinez made his Hall of Fame induction speech Sunday in Cooperstown, New York, his former teammate and close friend David Ortiz recalled those times waiting on Martinez.
“I told him one day, ‘I think it’s good you’re late for everything. Hopefully, you’re late for your funeral, too, because a good human being like you needs to live forever,’” Ortiz said. "He loved it."
There’s not much to get excited about with this team this season, as the Red Sox sit in the basement of the AL East. On the day Martinez was officially inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, many Red Sox personnel gave their thoughts not only on Martinez’s dominance on the field, but also on the type of person he is off the mound.
“Pedro is an angel. Pedro is the best human being,” Ortiz said. "If you told Pedro, ‘Hey, I’m going to hang out with you for two days.’ At the end of the second day, you’d ask to hang out for another week. Pedro is so much fun. I laugh all day when I’m with Pedro. He is an incredible human being. I can’t stop talking about Pedro.”
Martinez completed his 18 seasons in the big leagues while pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. Prior to that season, the right-handed ace spent four seasons with the New York Mets, a hated rival of the Phillies. Across the diamond, Shane Victorino, who spent the majority of his career in Philadelphia, had a true hatred for Martinez. But when Martinez signed as a free agent with the Phillies, Victorino changed his mind.
“I only knew him as a competitor, and I hated him,” Victorino said. “I disliked him because of the way he was with his attitude and his charisma on the mound. I respected him because I knew he was a veteran, but I disliked him because I felt sometimes he was showing us up. When he got traded over to us, he was one of the best teammates -- arguably one of my best teammates.”
Ortiz admitted prior to Sunday’s 11-1 win over the Detroit Tigers that he was motivated after watching the speeches of all of the Hall of Fame inductees. He certainly made his presence felt during the game.
Ortiz led a 20-hit attack for the Red Sox. He went 4-for-5, including a pair of three-run home runs and seven RBIs. His three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning snapped a 1-1 tie and was absolutely crushed, landing several rows behind the visitors’ bullpen in right field.
After his RBI single in the sixth inning, Ortiz provided his second three-run homer, an opposite-field shot into the Monster seats to give Boston an 11-1 lead in the seventh inning. It was his first multihomer game of the season. The seven RBIs are a career high for Ortiz.
“Big night for David and a big night for us offensively overall,” manager John Farrell said. “David was all over the baseball. He had two beautiful swings on the two three-run homers. Maybe it’s somewhat fitting for Boston baseball today with Pedro’s induction and then with David’s seven RBIs as he climbs up higher on that list.”
After Ortiz spent a few minutes before the game talking about Martinez’s career and Hall of Fame honor, the current Red Sox DH was asked if he thought his own career is worthy of a plaque hanging in the sacred halls in Cooperstown.
At first, Ortiz dismissed the question, as he has many times in the past. A few minutes later, however, he admitted the Hall of Fame is something he has been thinking about.
“This was the first time I really sat down to watch the induction, and there’s a lot of emotion going everywhere,” Ortiz told ESPN.com.
While watching and listening to the speeches made by Martinez, along with fellow Hall of Fame inductees Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio, Ortiz began to wonder how his speech would go if he ever had the opportunity to give one.
“I speak my mind,” he said. “I just don’t know, if the time comes, how it would work, if I ever get to that point. Reality is you’ve got to be honest when it comes down to that, and that’s what I saw today. I saw the guys thanking every single person that had something to do with their career.”
Like Martinez did in his speech, Ortiz said he would thank God and his family for the opportunity to play baseball.
“Your family is one that puts up with all the [expletive] that we’ve got to put up with through the years, and it’s not easy,” Ortiz said. “My wife has been with me since I was in A-ball, and putting up with me is not a piece of cake. When I struggle, I’m sitting at my house, but my mind is going, just thinking about how do I figure things out, so they have to put up with all that crap, but they’re always there for you.”
It was also an emotional day for former Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek watching his batterymate inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also believes Ortiz should one day have a plaque hanging in Cooperstown.
“In my tenure, he’s the biggest clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen,” Varitek told ESPN.com. “He’s been a part of three championships and there are some intangibles that way. I have no idea where the statistics fall, but he’s irreplaceable amongst those three championships.”
Ortiz also alluded to those intangibles that Varitek mentioned after Sunday’s win. With the exception of Biggio, the rest of this year’s Hall of Fame class all won championships.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, or how many years you played in the big leagues, you need to have that part of winning championships. Yeah, you put up numbers but who cares if you don’t win championships,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz should be a Hall of Famer.
Even as a career designated hitter, he has earned his spot in Cooperstown. A three-time World Series champion and nine-time All-Star, Ortiz finished Sunday’s game against the Tigers with a .283 lifetime average, 485 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 2,239 hits in his 19 seasons in the majors.
And he’s showing little signs of slowing down.
“As long as David stays healthy and is capable of producing, as he’s done for so many years, with each passing day, the probability of him getting in continues to increase,” Farrell said.
But it's more than just Ortiz’s career statistics. Bill Ballou, longtime Red Sox beat writer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, described it perfectly: Ortiz is the type of player fans buy a ticket to the game just to see.
Ortiz is the league’s all-time leader as a DH in hits, homers and RBIs. He holds the franchise record with eight 30/100 seasons. He has won the Silver Slugger Award as a DH six times. His postseason numbers and heroics are legendary.
Ortiz isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Many times, it has backfired on him. Other times, he can be genuine, thoughtful and insightful. On Sunday, he wondered for the first time what he would say if he one day earns the opportunity to stand at the podium in the middle of an open field in upstate New York and accept an invitation into the Hall of Fame.