Friday, March 25, 2011
Pedro Martinez portrait unveiled
By Enrique Rojas ESPNdeportes.com
WASHINGTON -- Pedro Martinez had a bullpen session Friday for what could be his next starting gig in baseball -- Cooperstown.
"Let's say, 'yes,' that this is a warm-up of what is to come," Martinez told ESPNdeportes.com at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, where a portrait of the former pitcher was unveiled as part of the museum's permanent collection.
Pedro Martinez looks at his portrait, which was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington on Friday.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner is featured in the portrait "El Orgullo y la Determinacion" ("Pride and Determination") by Susan Miller-Havens. The portrait was donated to the museum by veteran baseball reporter Peter Gammons and his wife, Gloria.
"He was the most dominating pitcher of all time in a span of seven years and the most exciting player I have ever seen," said Gammons, who covered Martinez's career while working for ESPN.
"Pedro has not only been a great pitcher, but also someone who has always been concerned about his community, in the Dominican Republic and the United States," gallery director Martin E. Sullivan said. "We are happy to have his portrait."
Martinez could not hold back tears when the portrait was finally unveiled.
"This is something as important as Cooperstown," Martinez said. "It's one of the largest museums in the world and the largest one in the United States. I hope it's only a warm-up for Cooperstown. It gives me great pride and joy."
The pitcher was accompanied by a large number of friends and relatives, including his mother, Leopoldina Martinez; his wife, Carolina Cruz; and his brother Ramon, also a former major league pitcher.
"Pedro Martinez has been a special person for our country and for baseball and this tribute represents a sign of how far he has gone," said former pitcher Juan Marichal, the only Dominican player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. "Not many people receive this honor."
Also present was Rafael Avila, the scout who signed the Martinez brothers with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dominican government was represented by the country's ambassador in Washington, Roberto Saladin.
Martinez's call to Cooperstown could happen as early as 2015. That date may change if Martinez returns to the field, something he considers a long shot, but not impossible.
"Very little chance," Martinez said about going back to the mound. "The scale is tipping in the other direction, toward retirement. Right now, I don't see a comeback."
Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.