Edgar’s in the Hall: My work is done | Guest View

By Tim Raetzloff | Jan 22, 2019
Courtesy of: Tim Raetzloff Tim Raetzloff and Edgar Martinez at an Everett Aquasox game in 2008.

Like most baseball fans in Seattle, I have been an Edgar Martinez fan for many years.

My first remembrance is that I thought that Edgar should be batting behind Ken Griffey Jr. instead of in front of him. The Mariner manager at the time finally got the lineup right, but it only lasted one or two games because a player ahead of them in the lineup – I think it was Henry Cotto – was injured and the lineup got juggled again.

I, of course, avidly followed the 1995 season.

Refuse to lose.

Edgar carried the M’s for a month or two while Griffey was on the disabled list. Everyone remembers The Double that won the series against the Yankees, and saved major league baseball in Seattle.

Many people, though, may have forgotten that Edgar actually saved baseball in Seattle twice.

The day before, on October 7, 1995, the Yankees had pulled out to a 5-0 lead over the Mariners in the third inning. I have watched the video more than once. You can see the pain in the faces of the fans and the players in the dugout.

Everyone knew they were watching the last baseball game that would ever be played in Seattle. Then Edgar stepped up and hit a three-run home run to get the Mariners back in the game. The M’s went ahead, but the Yankees tied it again in the 8th inning.

Then Edgar stepped up and outdid himself by hitting a grand-slam home run. The Mariners won and went on to the famous game the next day.

So I was an Edgar fan for many years but, like most Mariner fans, I didn’t have a frame of reference for how good Edgar really was. That changed in the summer of 1999.

With my wife and three of our four daughters, I was on vacation. We went down the coast past the Redwoods, and then steered inland and came north on the Highway 97 corridor. We stopped at the Best Western in Klamath Falls.

Jan and the girls went to use the pool, and I stayed in the room and watched “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN. Tim Kurkjian was talking about how the numbers that Edgar was putting up were among the best in the history of baseball.

Well, I liked Edgar, but I had never placed him with players like Ruth and Gehrig.

When I got home, I began devouring numbers. There weren’t as many sources as there are now, but there enough to see that Kurkjian was absolutely correct. I should have believed him because he was drawing a salary as a baseball analyst.

Kurkjian was absolutely correct; Edgar was putting together a career worthy of the baseball Hall of Fame.

I gathered information and, in 2001 began posting it on my website. I continued to update it for many years until I ran out of steam after my wife died. But the numbers are informative.

From 1995 through 2001, Edgar had consecutive years in which he had a batting average over .300, and on-base percentage over .400, and a slugging percentage over .500. Only three players in the history of baseball have had a longer streak of excellence.

You may recognize their names – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial. In fairness, there would almost certainly have been a fourth if he hadn’t taken time off to engage in combat in two wars. That would be Ted Williams.

Only two other players have streaks equaling Edgar’s, and both are in the Hall of Fame. There are a very small number of players who have accumulated six such seasons, and few have been consecutive. All but Shoeless Joe Jackson are in the Hall of Fame.

Edgar had eight total, and seven consecutive seasons that met this demanding standard, and he is one of the few players who has career numbers that also meet the same demanding standard.

Not coincidently, those seven years of consecutive excellence are also the high point of Mariner history, including all four playoff appearances.

Other players came and went. Edgar stayed. Had he gone to a big-market team, Edgar would have been in the Hall of Fame already. Had Edgar been a big mouth showoff, he probably would be in the Hall of Fame already. He didn’t do those things because if he had, he wouldn’t be who he is and was.

Edgar Martinez was clearly not as naturally gifted as many players who came along, but his work ethic was second to none. Martinez has deserved to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and finally the voters have come around to that point of view.

I can stop campaigning.

There were years during the campaign when I despaired of this day happening. It is finally here. Like Seattle used to be overlooked on the national stage, but no more, so too Edgar Martinez was overlooked partly because he played up in this forgotten corner of the country.

That is now corrected.

 

 

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