Edgar Martinez shaped the role of the designated hitter and numerous Mariners success stories

Share story

If a legend is someone who makes an unforgettable impact on his sport, then Edgar Martinez qualifies.

If a legend is someone who endears himself to the community in which he’s immersed — to the point of having a street named after him — then Martinez is the man.

And if a legend is someone who provides one indelible moment of triumph that will live on forever, well, that’s Edgar through and through.

For 18 years, Martinez graced the Mariners with his quiet demeanor and lethal bat, defining the designated-hitter position to such an extent that the award for the best DH each year is named in his honor.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Martinez, who never played for any other team but the Mariners, remained in Seattle after his retirement in 2004 to launch a successful business career, and also run a charitable foundation with his wife, Holli. He is the recipient of the Seattle Sports Star Legends Award and will be honored Friday night.

Now 50, Martinez compiled a .312 batting average, .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage, statistics that might well someday get him into the Hall of Fame. He won two batting titles and made seven All-Star teams, but for most Mariners fans, one at-bat, on Oct. 8, 1995, provided the sports moment of a lifetime.

The Mariners trailed the Yankees 5-4 heading to the bottom of the 11th inning in the decisive fifth game of the franchise’s first-ever playoff series. Martinez himself had helped keep the Mariners alive the day before by homering twice and driving in seven runs in an 11-8 victory over New York.

But all that, and a rousing relief appearance by ace Randy Johnson, would be for naught if the Mariners didn’t rally in the 11th. Their furious comeback from a 13 ½ — game deficit to catch the Angels for the division title, won in a raucous one-game playoff at the Kingdome — all played out against the ongoing drama of a fight to earn funding for a new ballpark and keep the team from moving out of town — hung in the balance.

Joey Cora reached on a bunt single. Ken Griffey Jr. singled him to third. Up stepped Martinez to face Jack McDowell. On an 0-1 pitch, he launched a double (“The Double”) into the left-field corner, eliciting a madhouse scene at the now-departed ballpark: Cora scoring the tying run, and Griffey racing around the bases at breakneck speed to score the winning run, disappearing under a dogpile of teammates as announcer Dave Niehaus screamed, “The Mariners are going to play for the American League pennant! It just continues!”

Legendary stuff. And no one fits the title of Seattle legend more comfortably than Edgar Martinez.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.