For the first time since being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Edgar Martinez met with local media to discuss all that has happened to him in that span.
The crowd of Mariners employees gathered with excitement and anticipation. Some of them held signs, others eagerly stared at the closed door of the Ellis Pavilion in T-Mobile Park and readied their phones as they awaited the conquering hero to come through.
At once, the din from the swirl of conversations silenced and the crowd readied for the entrance, like a surprise birthday party. But this was no annual milestone that any normal person experiences in life.
No, this moment was 10 long years — many of them frustrating, some of them hopeless — in the making for many of them.
So as the doors opened and Edgar Martinez appeared to them for the first time since being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame last week, an outburst of emotion, cheering and celebration spilled forth from Mariners employees, who have longed for this moment for Seattle’s humble superstar.
Martinez, never a fan of the spotlight or a promoter of himself, seemed genuinely stunned by the greeting and the amount of people there to cheer him. His face turned the color of the red carpet that marked his path through the cheering employees to an area set up for a news conference. He nodded and repeatedly said “thank you” to people clapping and yelling for him.
For the first time since receiving that long-awaited phone call from Jack O’Connell, the secretary of the Baseball Writers Association of America, informing him that he been finally elected for baseball’s highest honor, Martinez met with local media to discuss all that has happened to him in that span.
“Thank you all for being here today, especially to those of you who voted me all these years,” he said quietly. “I really appreciate all the support. Also I’d like to thank the Seattle fans for an amazing 18 years as a player. And they’ve been supporting me as a Hall of Fame candidate. Their support has been amazing, incredible.”
Martinez wouldn’t leave out the people that had just cheered him on. To him, it was a collaboration of all involved.
“The Mariners organization has been incredible,” he said. “They shared stats that I didn’t even know about. And between the fans and the people in the Mariners organization, it really made a big difference. It’s why I’m sitting in here and why I was elected to the Hall of Fame. So thank you.”
In the moments after being informed of his election into the Hall of Fame and the subsequent media blitz in New York, Martinez was remarkably composed, similar to his approach at the plate with two strikes and the game on the line.
“It’s been an amazing feeling,” he said. “When you get that news, it’s shocking and it takes a while to actually sink in. But I hope to reflect a little more on what it means. But it really is a big honor just knowing that I will be in the same Hall of Fame as great players from the past. It’s honor to be elected and be along side Junior (Ken Griffey Jr.) and (Dave) Niehaus and my fellow Puerto Ricans, Roberto Clemente, (Orlando) Cepeda, Ivan Rodriguez and Roberto Alomar. It’s just an amazing feeling.”
Unlike past Hall of Famers to wear a Mariners uniform like Griffey and Randy Johnson, who eventually left in trades at their request, Martinez never played for another organization. He never considered it.
“Staying in Seattle, it was a combination of a great relationship with the organization and also with the fans,” he said. “From the beginning of my career, it was a great relationship. I was treated really, really well by the fans and by the organization. It just felt right.”
He then paused and looked at his wife and two of his three children seated in front of him.
“And I also met Holli here,” he said with a soft smile. “It was a great situation for me. And it meant a lot for me to stay here.”
Martinez is ready to start moving forward in this process. He and Holli will fly to Cooperstown sometime in February to meet with the staff of the Hall of Fame to go over the logistics of induction and what to expect.
He will also begin the arduous process of preparing his induction speech.
“I haven’t thought about it,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of people I need to thank. Obviously, playing for so many years and having this skill I had, there’s a lot of people that played big role in me playing all those years and being consistent. There’s a lot of people that I want to thank. But I haven’t given it too much thought yet. I do have a few months to think about it.”
Martinez is still going through emails and texts from family, friends and former teammates who reached out to congratulate him.
“A lot of my ex-teammates either called or texted,” he said. “There were a lot of people from Puerto Rico — old friends that I haven’t talked to in a while.”
In the days leading up to the announcement, Martinez didn’t allow himself to look at the ballot tracking from Ryan Thibodaux. That didn’t stop Holli from monitoring it closely.
“Holli kept track so I knew what was going on,” he said. “I didn’t look. I think incredibly I looked less this year than last year. For some reason, I thought that it was going to happen. In the back of my mind, I knew there was a chance that it might not, but I felt pretty comfortable with how it was going all the way to the end. I felt at ease either way.”
But a Hall of Fame career is something he could have never imagined when he signed as an international free agent out of Puerto Rico back on Dec. 18, 1982.
“The journey has been amazing I would’ve never thought all this would happen to me,” Martinez said. “It’s just an incredible feeling. I’m trying to not allow myself to think about those things a lot. I feel very humble and blessed.”