Year in Review: 1997


Re-rank the list of top sports stories of 1997


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Tiger Woods takes
golf world by storm

Pedro Martinez signs
record deal with Sox

Latrell Sprewell
assaults coach, gets ax

Rick Pitino becomes
Celtics coach, president

Bill Parcells quits after Patriots' banner year

Martina Hingis
rules women's tennis

Florida Marlins win World Series

Women's pro hoop
meets with success

A Patriots surprise:
Super Bowl XXXI berth

Wil Cordero charged
with assaulting wife

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Check out the top news stories of 1997
Martinez says he has $75 million Sox deal

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff, 12/11/97
Pedro Martinez appears satisfied after agreeing to a record-breaking
$75 million dollar deal to pitch for the Red Sox. (Globe Photo / John Riley)


That's serious money

Sox make big deal of Martinez

Official Red Sox Web site

ANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who earlier in the evening had dined at the presidential palace, was sitting on the terrace at the home of his older brother, Ramon, having a drink and looking over some uniforms they were donating to children, when the call came.

It was around 2 a.m. yesterday in the island nation. On the other end of the line was one of Pedro's agents, Bob Gilhooley.

''Congratulations,'' Gilhooley said, according to Pedro. ''We've agreed. We can get a deal done.''

The deal is a precedent-setting, six-year contract for around $75 million that will make the 26-year-old Martinez the highest-paid player in baseball.

It was front-page news in the afternoon papers here yesterday after Martinez, the 1997 National League Cy Young Award winner with the Montreal Expos, told a radio station in a nationally broadcast interview that he had come to terms with Boston.

While neither the Red Sox nor the righthander's agents are confirming a deal has been struck, Martinez plans to fly this morning to Boston, where he will undergo a physical and presumably be presented at a press conference. He was planning to be accompanied by Ramon, who pitches for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A third brother, Jesus, pitches for the Florida Marlins.

''He blew out the market,'' said Adam Katz, one of Mo Vaughn's agents, who coincidentally was visiting with another client at a hotel here when Martinez arrived for an interview. ''I'm surprised the Red Sox did it, but he's worth it.''

Martinez's contract calls for an average annual salary of $12.5 million, $1 million a year more than Atlanta gave Greg Maddux, the four-time Cy Young Award winner, in an extension last summer, and $4.5 million more than the Toronto Blue Jays gave former Sox ace Roger Clemens, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, as a free agent last winter.

The Red Sox also can exercise an option that reportedly would add two more years to the contract for an additional $17 million.

''Those numbers are close,'' Martinez said of his reported deal, ''but I don't know for sure yet. I'm waiting for them to fax me a sheet with all the details. I'd rather go and get it all done, then say what the deal is.''

By signing him to a long-term deal now, the Red Sox have eliminated the risk that Martinez, who was paid $3.615 million last season, would leave after the 1998 season as a free agent. But his contract raises questions about whether the team can also sign first baseman Mo Vaughn, who is entering his free agent year and is balking at signing a two-year extension.

''We'll have to regroup,'' Vaughn's agent, Tom Reich, said last night.

After receiving the late-night phone call from his agent, Martinez said, he thanked God, then called his mother, Leopoldina, to inform her of the deal. ''She was still up,'' he said, ''because she always waits until all her sons are home before she goes to sleep.''

Leo, as her sons call her, rushed over to share an embrace.

Martinez, acquired Nov. 18 by the Red Sox for pitching prospect Carl Pavano and a player to be named in a salary-driven trade from small-market Montreal, took less than a month to come to terms on a new contract with Boston. He had said that he wanted time to decide whether Boston was the place he wanted to make a long-term commitment.

The dollars, of course, played a huge part in his decision. But he also was swayed, he said, by his visit here, during which Nomar Garciaparra, among others, influenced him. Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, who pitched part of one season (1974) in Boston and is now the government-appointed secretary of sport here, also spoke highly of his time with the Red Sox.

''I was having high hopes about me going to a team like Florida, a team that went to the World Series,'' Martinez said. ''I had high hopes of going to a city like Cleveland or going to LA and playing with my brother, which I would love to do.

''None of those things happened. Florida tore down its team. The trade didn't happen with Cleveland, it happened with Boston. When I couldn't play with my brother, I decided that it was very convenient for me to have a team like Boston that's trying real hard, a team that from the first moment I got there treated me first-class.

''And the people there. I walked a little bit around downtown. The people were really nice. When I was leaving Boston and was at the airport, people already knew who I was. I was sitting there at my gate, and they wouldn't let me go. They were asking me questions, asking me if I would be the next Roger Clemens. Some guys even wanted to protect me from people who kept coming over. It was really nice to see that on a first meeting.

''It made me feel that we would get along well.''

This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 12/11/97.
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