April 15, 2019 – Telegram, Worcester,
By Bill Ballou
SUTTON — Pedro Martinez spent a baseball lifetime handcuffing major league hitters.
Any Central Massachusetts baseball fan could be next.
The Hall of Fame pitcher officially entered the world of law enforcement here Sunday when he was named an honorary reserve deputy sheriff at the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association annual swearing-in ceremony and banquet at Pleasant Valley Country Club.
He has the badge to prove it, and was proud to show it off.
However, don’t think you’ll get to meet Martinez by driving 85 mph down Route 146 or running a red light. Reserve deputy sheriffs are only on duty when called up by the sheriff, in this case Lew Evangelidis, and that doesn’t happen very often. Beyond that, the Reserve Deputy Sheriffs Association is mostly focused on charitable endeavors.
Martinez, Evangelidis, Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. were at the head table while the new Worcester Triple A team — let’s call them Red Sox for now — had an audience presence that included team President Dr. Charles Steinberg and General Manager Dan Rea.
Perhaps if Martinez had been so honored 16 years ago, one of the most memorable moments in recent Fenway Park history might not have happened — Martinez being charged by Yankees coach, and former Red Sox manager Don Zimmer.
“Sheriff,” Martinez said to Evangelidis, “That’s not my behavior.”
To which Evangelidis responded, “I was at the game and I assure you, if anyone was gonna get arrested it was Don Zimmer.”
There was a lot of reminiscing throughout the evening, much of it by Martinez, whose Red Sox career actually began in Worcester with a visit to Dr. Arthur Pappas, the team doctor, when Boston traded for him in 1997.
Martinez has become a more frequent visitor to the area in recent years and was on hand last August when the Pawtucket Red Sox announced they were moving to Worcester
“You have one more partner,” Martinez said Sunday night. “I commit myself to this gesture you are doing here and extremely honored and blessed. You were the first town I ever went to when I came to Boston and look where I ended up today.
“Dr. Pappas got me my first apple juice, I had my first breakfast here in Worcester, then I had my lunch. Somehow we are linked together, and now that the Red Sox are going to move their Triple A team here, I am linked more even now to Worcester. Hopefully, there will be many, many more (moments).”
Martinez’s Red Sox career lasted from 1998 through 2004. There were so many unforgettable moments in that span that it can seem his career began and ended in Boston, but it did not.
He was part of the dreadful 2003 ALCS loss to the Yankees, part of the miraculous comeback against New York in 2004 and subsequent World Series victory, and the starting pitcher in one of the game’s great moments of the 20th century, the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park.
That All-Star Game resulted in his all-time favorite single pitch, the 2003 ALCS his most regretted one.
“I’d love to have a do-over with Posada and the little blooper with the broken bat,” Martinez said of the Game 7 loss in 2003. “I’d much rather drill him and just say, go take first.”
“The first pitch at the All-Star Game in ’99,” he said, “because that moment gave me the opportunity to be the most unique ever. There will not be another one, at least in my lifetime where you in front of the All-Century Team, dedicated to Ted Williams, in Boston, and doing it in front of your fan base.
That was a moment that will never go away from me.”
Winning the 2004 World Series, though, remains a career moment that will likely never be topped
“I would be empty right now,” Martinez said, “if I won seven World Series, but not the one in Boston.”
That triumph, however, led to some awkward moments in its aftermath.
“I’m always glad to sign things,” he said, “and now people are asking me to sign shirts and balls and tell me, ‘I’m gonna take them to my family’s grave and bury it.’ And I’m thinking, ’Oh, do I really need to sign that? To that extreme, people here in Boston really love there baseball, and bringing that to Boston the biggest achievement by far in my entire life.
“I was brought over here to break a curse, and it’s a great sense of satisfaction you get when were brought here, and you were able to do it.”
Martinez not only helped pitch Boston to the 2004 championship, he helped with player personnel matters, something he pointed out to Steinberg, who was seated about 10 feet away.
David Ortiz came to Boston thanks to some behind-the-scenes work by Martinez, who ran into him at a restaurant the night he was released by the Twins. Martinez lobbied Manny Ramirez, and Sox ownership, to help make that signing happen, although that pre-dated Steinberg’s involvement with the team.
“Charles, you owe me that one. I need my credentials as a scout, I brought David Ortiz here,” Martinez said, adding, “The rest is history even though I haven’t been recognized as a scout.”
Even though Martinez neither began nor ended his career in Boston, he wears a Red Sox cap on his plaque in Cooperstown. From now on, he’ll carry a little plaque in his wallet telling the world he is Deputy Sheriff Martinez.
He might have thrown 98, but don’t let him catch you doing it, at least not if he’s been called to service.
SUTTON – Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, World Series champion and Hall of Famer, was the special guest Sunday, April 14, 2019, at the annual reserve deputies’ swearing-in for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, held at Pleasant Valley Country Club. Reserve deputies, along with family members and sheriff’s staff, posed for photos before the ceremony. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attended the event. [T&G Staff/Christine Peterson]