Red Sox

Pedro Martinez on the lasting impact of the 2004 Red Sox, and his friendship with Roger Clemens

Ahead of his foundation's event at Fenway Park, "Feast With 45," Martinez also offered some thoughts on baseball's increasing strikeout rate, and why he still preferred to pitch in the "steroid era."

Pedro Martinez
Pedro Martinez at the recent Red Sox Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

When Pedro Martinez thinks back to the final playoff series of his Red Sox career, the thrill of helping to bring a World Series trophy back to Boston for the first time in 86 years hasn’t gone away.

“You know I’m still walking on top of a cloud,” Martinez said of the legendary 2004 World Series win during a recent interview. “It’s like it was yesterday. It will never go away from my mind.”

“Just the fact that I was one of the 25 guys that was out there to bring it home to Boston fills me up with pride and satisfaction,” Martinez added. “We actually pulled it off after 86 years of waiting.”

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The championship victory was a crowning achievement on what was already a legendary Boston career for Martinez, who won two Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox and posted the lowest ERA in the league four times in seven seasons during his time with the team.

Now a baseball analyst for TBS, Martinez still enjoys a strong presence in Boston thanks partly to his charitable work. The Pedro Martinez Foundation, founded in 1998, has worked to provide opportunities for children in athletics and education (both in the United States and Martinez’s native country, the Dominican Republic).

“Thanks to God, we have been able to impact a lot of lives,” Martinez said. “Even though it wasn’t mentioned a lot, we have done a lot.”

The foundation’s latest event, “Feast With 45,” offers a chance for Boston sports fans to not only mingle at Fenway Park with Martinez and other Boston sports figures past and present, but to enjoy food from some of the city’s top chefs.

The feast gets underway at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 5. It’s the foundation’s first major event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Martinez remains a central figure in the foundation while his wife, Carolina, is its president.

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“We missed it so much,” Carolina said of foundation events over the last several years. “We missed just being able to share time with the Boston fans and just being able to have people come and have fun while they are making a difference in the lives of kids.”

Charlie McAvoy of the Bruins as well as Justin Bethel and Cody Davis of the Patriots will be there representing other local teams. In addition, a strong cast of former Red Sox players (Tim Wakefield, Jim Rice, Jarrod Saltalamacchia) will be in attendance along with Martinez. Arguably the most notable name other than Martinez himself will be fellow former Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.

Despite their on-field rivalry during the heated Red Sox-Yankees games of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Martinez said he now has a strong friendship with Clemens.

“I remember I expressed to Roger how much I admired who he was, how I wanted to mimic my mechanics like his when I was a little kid,” said Martinez. “I wanted to be like Roger Clemens and anytime I had the opportunity to pitch and [pretend to] be someone, I would pick Roger Clemens or Dwight Gooden or Nolan Ryan.”

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Martinez said that when he told Clemens about how much he idolized him as a younger pitcher, “He started crying because he couldn’t believe that I really followed him that much, that I was such a big fan of his.”

“Since then we became really close and really good friends,” Martinez explained.

Surveying the current trends in baseball — and how strikeout totals have been steadily increasing for years — Martinez acknowledged that he’s pondered what it might have been like to pitch in the current era. Known for possessing multiple dominant pitches in his prime, Martinez finished with 3,154 career strikeouts (which ranks 13th all-time).

“I can’t help it,” Martinez confessed.

“But I’ll tell you,” he quickly added, “I pitched in the middle of the steroid era. I don’t think I would’ve wanted it any other way, because believe me, I wanted to face the best. I wanted to face the most challenging situation. That’s what got the best out of me.”

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