Skip to main content

Celebrating Pedro and the Tragedy of Nomar

Pedro Martinez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday getting almost 92% of the votes. He becomes the first pitcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame who spent the majority of his career with the Red Sox.

I wish I would have appreciated him more. I was a Roger Clemens fan from an early age and Dan Duquette was public enemy number one for me when he let Clemens walk after the 1996 season. Pedro showed up in 1998 as the new ace and I was reluctant to accept him. Clemens was my boyhood hero and as great as Pedro was, I would never give him his due.

I criticized his lack of endurance and how he threw Grady Little under the bus after the 2003 ALCS. Criticisms that were and are valid, but are far outweighed by his dominance.  His dominance can be summed up by looking at two stats, his won/loss record while with the Red Sox and his career ERA+. His record with the Red Sox was 117-37. That is just ridiculous! His career ERA + is the best in MLB history. It stands at 154 which means that his ERA was 54% lower than the league average while he pitched.

Then there is Nomar Garciaparra, my favorite all time player for the Red Sox. He passed Jim Rice and he passed Roger Clemens for me not too long after he broke in with the Red Sox in 1996. He was on pace to be a Hall of Famer and then it all changed. Nomar received 5.5% of the vote which means he will remain on the ballot. It is tough to admit that he is not HOF worthy. He just didn't do it long enough. His peak seasons were a different story.

Nomar has the highest career OPS among all shortstops who have had at least 5,000 at bats. The problem is Nomar barely had over 5,000 at bats while a guy like Derek Jeter had over 11,000.

Nomar is just one of six shortstops to have 6 seasons with 6+ WAR. The problem is that Nomar only had those 6 amazing seasons and not much after. Nomar appearing for the first time on the ballot brings all of this back and it makes it all very bittersweet.

Pedro and Nomar will always be linked. They were the stars of the Red Sox in the 90s. It is fitting that they both appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot together. It would have been much more fitting if they were being inducted together.

They shared many great days and nights. None were more special than October 11, 1999. It was the deciding game of the ALDS against the Indians. Pedro was hurt but was said to be available if the Sox needed him, maybe for a couple of innings. Nomar was battling a sore wrist and had to miss a game earlier in the series. Nomar was a monster in 1999, in that series and especially that night. He homered in his first at bat, was walked intentionally his next at bat and Troy O'Leary hit the next pitch for a grand slam.

Nomar was intentionally walked again in the 7th inning and O'Leary once again responded with a homer. In Nomar's last at bat they pitched to him, he drove in a run with a screaming double off the left field wall. I will never forget the look on the face of Mike Hargrove after the double. It was a look of pure defeat.

As for Pedro, he entered the game in the 4th inning of an 8-8 game that was out of control. Charles Nagy had been lit up for the Indians while Bret Saberhagen and Derek Lowe had been lit up for the Sox. The sore shouldered Martinez went the rest of the way. He faced 21 batters, struck out 8, walked 3 and did not allow a hit, The Red Sox would win the game 12-8 and the series 3-2. They would go on to face the Yankees in the ALCS. Nomar and Pedro were the two greatest players on the planet that night. They were sure-fire Hall of Famers that night, unfortunately the fire was extinguished prematurely for Nomar.

Here is the box score of that incredible game. On a side note, Kenny Lofton was injured in the game and his replacement was a guy named Dave Roberts. I wonder what he would be doing five years later...

If you have a couple of hours to kill, the entire game is available to watch. Here you go. You're welcome!



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Greatness of George Brett

One of my all time favorite non-Red Sox players is George Brett. He is in that class of guys like Chipper Jones, Willie Mays, and Pete Rose. Guys who never played for the Red Sox but I wish they had.

I have always liked Brett and I even got to see him play 6 games in Fenway Park in 1990 and 1991. I recently went down a George Brett rabbit hole on the internet and I was reminded why I really liked him as a player.

The first thing I loved about him is that he hated the Yankees and still hates the Yankees. The Royals and the Yankees had some battles during the 70s and 80s and Brett was right in the middle of it all.

Brett was also a Yankee Killer, especially in the playoffs. Brett played in 17 postseason games against the Yankees and had 24 hits, 6 homers and 14 RBI. Not bad.

Here he is going deep three times in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS



We all know what a prick Goose Gossage has become, here is Brett turning on a Gossage fastball in 1980 and sending it into the third deck of Yankee S…

A Homer and a Suicide: The Life of a Gay Red Sox Outfielder?

Ted Williams homered in his last at bat off Jack Fisher of the Baltimore Orioles. Williams was supposedly the only player in the history of baseball to retire after sending one deep. The great John Thorn found that hard to believe and through research discovered others who homered in their final at-bat. You can read his piece on that right here. Ted Williams was not the only player to do it and he wasn't even the only Red Sox outfielder to do it. Chick Stahl did it first on October 6, 1906 off of Tom Hughes of the New York Highlanders (Yankees). It was Chick Stahl's 36th and final home-run of his very successful career. He was just 33 years old and had played in his final game. Nobody knew it at the time. Stahl hit .305 for his career, led the league in triples in 1904 and would be a key player in the Boston Americans (Red Sox) winning the 1903 World Series. A month after his last game Stahl would get married but in March of the next year he would kill himself by drinking carb…

Willie Mays Would Have Had It

"Willie would have had it." I heard it the first time I went to a baseball game and have heard it or thought about it at every game since. The words would come from my father as he tried to teach me about the greatness of Willie Mays. Fly balls that hit warning track or that would drop in front of or to the side of an outfielder would get the same comment from my Dad, "Willie would have had it".


My father grew up a Mays fan and was surrounded by Mickey Mantle fans. His neighborhood was just one of the many neighborhoods where fans of all ages debated over who was better. Mantle fans would talk about his ability to switch hit and when Mantle would struggle to match up with Willie they would argue it was only because of his bad knees. My father would respond accordingly, "fine, Mickey is the best centerfielder with bad knees and Willie is just the best centerfielder".

I was born in 1974, a year after Willie Mays played his final game. I never got to see hi…