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Pedro Martinez, Baseball Genius MAG
You know him by his numbers, and they are impressive: he's a 5'11, 180-pound hurler with a 95 mile-per-hour fast ball, three Cy Young Awards, and a 2002 salary of $14 million.
But he's much more. Pedro Martinez makes headlines as the Boston Red Sox's unstoppable pitcher, but he also takes time to appreciate his fans, focus on what's important, remember the people of his hometown of Manoguayabo in Dominican Republic, and appreciate that his hard work has made his dreams come true. Meet the man behind the numbers.
You once said, "What I know about baseball and life off the field, I owe to my brother, Ramon. " We just wanted to know, what off-field lessons did he teach you that mean the most now?
Probably to work hard, and actually, just being responsible and dedicated to what I choose to do.
I'm the class president, and we have a bunch of personalities in the class, with different views on life. I just wanted to know, with a 25-man team with members from all around the world, how do you work together as a team?
Well, we just put our focus on the same goal, which is to win games, and we all go for it.
All of us are trying to run at the same velocity for the same finish line. We're not trying to beat anybody in our own team, we're trying to get there, all 25 at the same time, trying to take the same synchronized step, just run to the end of the line, which is the end of the game, for a win, together.
When this place is filled with pressure, all the screaming fans, how do you stay focused between pitches?
I just try to do what I have to do and let the people out there do what they have to do, which is have fun, scream, yell and jump around. I try to do what I have to do, which is play baseball, and I can only play in that piece of area there, so that's what I try to do.
The nature of sports has changed greatly in the past decade. What do you think students should take from high-school sports?
What should they take? Whatever they can;it's never bad to learn, never a bad choice to pick whatever is really positive for you, not only in sports, but in anything you choose to do. You have to justt ake advantage of whatever positive things you can.
I've lived in one house my whole life. You're from the Dominican Republic and have played in Los Angeles, Montreal, and now Boston. What is it like when you leave your teammates behind to go to a different team, and make that adjustment to a whole new set of people and a new place?
It's not easy, but it's something you must be prepared for before you leave your home, your mom and dad.
At first you feel a little homesick. You feel like you need Mom and you want to go back. You miss your life, culture; there are a lot of things you can miss, but once you make the decision to play baseball as a career, you must be in a place to know you are going to face some bumps in the road. So you might as well prepare to face it with desire, which is something I really appreciate, as I told you earlier, because of my brother. He taught me how to have the desire to do what I wanted to do, which was play baseball.
Once you do that, you will understand that all those things that come you are supposed to face, because you left home to do this.
I know a lot of players are superstitious. Do you have a pre-game meal, or ritual, you follow before you pitch?
No, I wouldn't say "ritual, " I would just say routine of breakfast, and stuff like that.
I don't believe in superstitions.
There's no favorite meal you have before a game?
No, just something light and whatever I feel like eating that day; I'm a picky eater, so I just eat whatever I feel like eating that day and go for it.
On days you're not pitching, you have four or five hours of possibly 90-degree heat in the dugout. What do you people talk about during the game?
Mostly about baseball;we're normally looking around, we're getting ready for the game, or if we have togo into the game.
But we chat about a lot of things; a lot of the young guys ask you questions like I once did. I used to ask a lot of questions.
You laugh if you see situations or just comment back and forth, sometimes about your family, a little story, or, "I have this problem at home, I wish I could be there now, but I can't" stuff like that.
We talk about a lot of things, most of it baseball.
We know you do a great deal to help others; what are some causes you're working on now?
Well, I have a few projects. We're developing a sports complex in the Dominican. So far, I've done a lot of community houses for people who didn't have proper places to live; I built a couple of churches.
I've done a few things, even though it sounds kind of funny to me to be talking about them. You're just supposed to do things and that's why you're here, and then let it go.
I'm planning to work with my foundation on a camping group. I'm thinking about working with them to bring kids here from Dominican Republic and from all over the United States to spend a summer camping around here.
Following up on that, you once said that if you pray to God, He will help you, and, like you said, you've built churches in the Dominican.
I just wanted to know how your religion helps you on, and off, the field.
I believe that if you're healthy, you're capable of doing everything. There's no one else who can give you health but God, and by being healthy I believe that God is listening to me. When I wasn't healthy, it was because I deserved it. I must have done something wrong, so I must go back to God and pray and stay with Him. Or maybe He was testing my mind to see if I would lose some faith, but I wouldn't. I'm healthy again and I'm thankful, and I'm really happy to be able to express all these things.
You've been through a lot. Do you have a favorite or memorable childhood moment?
I think every one of them is my favorite, but being a child was something special -I used to do a lot of crazy things. Sometimes I'd climb a tree, break a piece of the tree and then come down with it. I never broke a bone, though, so my guardian angel must have been around.
I used to go really high in the trees and break people's trees and just come down - those are probably my biggest highlights.
I bought this book a while ago, and as you see here, Nomar is tying you to a dugout pole. I wondered what was the best prank that'sever happened in the dugout or clubhouse?
One that I did was wearing a Yoda mask here and going out, dunking my head, and then trying to shake hands with Mo [Vaughn]. When he looked at my face he backed off. That was so funny. That was one I really enjoyed.
Nomar tying me up? That happened one game when we weren't getting runs but once I got there, they scored four or five runs and we ended up winning the game. I was so loud all day that they decided to tie me up to the pole, and I said I wouldn't be quiet until I saw the game over.
Of all your teammates, who has the quirkiest superstition, and what is it?
I would say Nomar. You can all see what Nomar does - he has like 30 different things and he does all in the same order. I wish I could do all those things.
When I'm watching the games I always wonder what you talk about on the mound when the pitching coach or catcher comes out.
Normally they come in to give you a little breather, to give you time to rest a bit, and also to give you some advice they think is going to help about facing the next batter, or situation.
What are the positives of being famous, and what are some of the drawbacks?
The only positive things you can find about being famous is that, well, there could be a few. I guess you don't have to wait in line sometimes; you get a parking space easier, you can lso get your way in different things.
Those are some positive things about being famous, but fame to my way of living has been a negative thing. I wish I could be the same baseball player and achieve what I achieve without the fame; I would like to sneak by and just be simple like you.
You've obviously achieved a lot, but what is one of your greatest disappointments, and how did you deal with it?
My greatest disappointment must have been being sent down in the 1993 season to the minor leagues after I was promised that if I made the team by putting up the numbers I was going to stay there, and half an hour before I went over with the team, I was sent down.
That was the time when I wanted to quit; that was the only time I attempted to go back.
In general, what advice do you have for teenagers?
I would just say, first of all, believe in God; second of all, believe in your parents and their advice, and third, I would say believe in yourself and dedicate yourself to whatever you choose to do.
If you could face any player from the past, who would it be?
Of course it would probably be Babe Ruth; I would love to face Babe Ruth.
Not only me, I would like the league to face him, 500 at-bats to see what happens.
How do you get ready to face another batter after you've just given up a home run or a big hit?
The other guys are also big leaguers. I respect them all, so after I give up a home run, I know he did his job. I was trying to do mine, and the way I focus back and look with my face forward, with the same strength, is saying, Hey, I did the best I could do.
And knowing that I did not have anything to feel embarrassed about because you have to give the other guy credit and respect that they are also as good as you are, and that's the reason they're here.
If you could pick a nickname for yourself, what would it be?
Any name but Pedro.
I would say my middle name, Jaime. I don't like Pedro because of the history in the Bible; what Peter did to God, to Jesus, I don't like my name.
Do you have anything to say that we didn't ask you about?
No, I just want to congratulate you and wish you the best and pray to God that you guys will be healthy and continue to have success.