Pedro Martínez’ election to the Baseball Hall of Fame is a wondrous event that, even though expected and predictable, has an undeniable significance in the lives of Latinos in the United States. In fact, it has two readings.
The first one could be the story of sacrifice and triumph of a Latino immigrant who, in his struggle to achieve his dreams, gets to carve a space for himself at a level of excellence only a very few can reach.
The formidable Dominican pitcher has achieved massive recognition among the voting journalists and writers who have sent him to the Cooperstown’s shrine of immortals in his first appearance at the ballot. Such is the level the Manoguayabo native has reached in baseball, a sport in which the hardships and anxieties suffered by minorities in other times seem, happily, a thing of the distant past.
Since yesterday, Pedro ‘El Grande’ is placed amongst Clemente, Marichal, Aparicio, Carew and other heroes of another era. He can now show off, and not only for himself, but on behalf of a community that cheered him enthusiastically during his colossal career, and enjoyed and suffered with the good and the bad times.
That is the first thought that comes to mind: recognize and underscore the message of sacrifice and triumph implicit in his story.
The second reading has more to do with the time than the space in which his career took place. Pedro Martínez is an example of moral pulchritude and cleanliness at a time in which baseball was tainted by the use of banned substances. Those were critical years for the game, which left victims by act and omission – of historical significance.
Roger Clemens another top pitcher wrote his story as doubts persisted, and yesterday, when Martínez was elected, voters ignored him once again. And Sammy Sosa, his countryman and another joy provider, goes into retirement amid the silence and oblivion for his old sins.
With his natural talent, indomitable character and winning spirit, Pedro Martínez built an awe-inspiring career that today is recognized by all. But the most valuable part of his legacy is having achieved this while sticking to the fair play and honesty that bring greatness to sports