Without Dan Duquette’s persistence, there would be no Pedro Martinez in Boston.
Duke was the man with the plan, and that plan came to fruition on Nov. 19, 1997 when the former Red Sox GM brought Pedro to Boston in a trade with the Montreal Expos. In exchange, the Red Sox sent highly-touted righthander Carl Pavano across the border along with player-to-be-named-later Tony Armas, Jr.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“It sends a message to everyone that the Red Sox are back in business,” Duquette said after the deal was consummated in ’97, his second involving Pedro who went 17-8 and the first of his three Cy Young awards in his last season in Montreal, striking out 305 batters with a major-league low 1.90 ERA. Duquette first traded for Martinez while he GM of the Expos in 1993 and Martinez was a 22-year-old up-and-comer with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“This is a huge acquisition for us,” Duke said when the deal to acquire Pedro was announced. “When you have a No. 1 pitcher, that makes you that much better. This past season, the Red Sox lacked an ace pitcher… This is the kind of trade that when you go to bed as a general manager, you dream of.”
After the deal, they lacked an ace no longer as Pedro would own this town for the next seven years, going 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA, and 1,683 strikeouts in 203 games.
Red Sox pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, who was like a second father to the righthander while both were in Montreal, knew Pedro would thrive in Boston.
“Pedro is from the most passionate baseball place in the world, the Dominican Republic, and the one place in this country where people have that kind of passion is Boston,” Kerrigan said after the trade for Martinez. “Pedro will love the atmosphere in Fenway, the love for the game that he has, the passion. Remember, he’s never known anything in Montreal comparable to what he’ll feel in Fenway Park. That is the pure baseball fire he grew up with.”
And the Fenway Faithful saw that fire every time Pedro took the mound. And Martinez was the spark that fired up the fans as well, as it was an event complete with Dominican flags waving throughout the ballpark whenever Petey took his turn on the hill.
With Pedro a surefire lock to enter baseball’s Hall of Fame Tuesday, Duquette recently looked back on that magical time in Boston and what the Martinez trade meant to the Red Sox and the city.
“Pedro is obviously a supremely talented pitcher but on a personal basis, he’s my favorite pitcher and favorite player that I’ve ever worked with because he has such great passion for the game and he’s got such high intelligence and such terrific manners and grace,” Duquette told Boston.com. “I’m just so happy for him to get the opportunity to be able to fulfill that great talent he had in Boston and to be able to celebrate that achievement with the Hall of Fame.”
Duke spoke about what made Pedro such a great competitor throughout his career.
“I think Pedro’s size or lack of it, told him early on in his life that he was going to have to fight for everything that he was going to accomplish,” Duquette said. “And he took that attitude into his pitching with his fearlessness.”
While Martinez pitched many memorable games during his seven years in Boston, a couple stood out for Duquette.
“He pitched some great games,” Duke reminisced. “When he came off the mat from an injury in ’99 and he pitched the Red Sox to victory against Cleveland in Cleveland, that was a terrific moment. I have to say, probably his greatest moment was in the 1999 All-Star game, when he was the star of stars in his home ballpark, when he struck out five of the first hitters he faced. I was privileged to be there to see it, but it was a really special moment.”
It seemed every night No. 45 took the mound was a special moment at Fenway Park, and the atmosphere was turned up a big notch.
“Pedro was a terrific performer with a performer’s temperament, and every time he pitched at Fenway Park it was an event in itself,” Duquette recalled. “It was like going to see a prize fight to be able to see Pedro pitch on the mound, and to see him apply his trade with such passion and terrific skill. This guy had three unbelievable pitches (fastball, changeup, curve), great fielder, terrific competitor, fierce and fearless man. Everything you ever looked for in a pitcher, Pedro Martinez had it.”
And that’s why Pedro will be elected to Cooperstown as a first-ballot Hall of Famer today.