How long Pedro Martinez will have to wait for the Baseball Hall of Fame is largely up to him: The three-time Cy Young-winning pitcher has been coy about when he’s retiring, or whether he already has. But no wait for the Smithsonian: On Friday, the Dominican-born superstar was enshrined in the National Portrait Gallery.
“I’ve been in tough games,” Martinez said, eyes glistening throughout his speech. “Really really tough games. But never felt this much emotion in any of the games as I’m feeling right now. I’m not a person who gets nervous, but I’m a little shaky.”
Just the latest addition to an institution its director Martin Sullivan called “our nation’s Facebook.” Martinez, 39, joins about 50 other baseball players in the museum, none younger than him. His portrait was donated to the gallery by Gloria and Peter Gammons, a veteran sportswriter who heralded Martinez for his duende — “soul, authenticity... intrepid heart” — and charitable work in his native country. Artist Susan Miller-Havens, who rendered the star in oil and beeswax, said she was going for “a balance between his fierceness and his heart”; she ended up with a somewhat moody Martinez, his face shadowed by the brim of his ballcap, leaving the focus on his long, strong-fingered hands. (The real things are a marvel to behold in person.) He had already played for three major -league teams by the time she painted him in 2000 (and has since pitched for two others, including the Boston Red Sox in their 2004 World Series championship season), so instead of a club insignia, she adorned his sleeve with the flag of the Dominican Republic.
Martinez choked up a couple times in his speech before an audience that included his wife and kids, brother and fellow MLB pitcher Ramon, their boyhood idol Juan Marichal (one of the first Dominican pitchers in the majors, and already a Portrait Gallery icon), and Dominican Republic Ambassador Roberto Saladin. Now a free agent, Martinez hasn’t pitched since the 2009 season. Without making any official retirement announcement, he struck something of a farewell tone, alluding to his “next step” and telling teammates that “even if I don’t throw a ball anymore, they will always be part of my career.”
Leave it to the many sportswriters in the room to probe further on that topic. (“The scale is tipping... toward retirement,” he told ESPN.com) We work for something called the Style section, so we had to ask about his gray suit, which, seen up close, shimmered with a delicate grid of lavender and orange dots. Sounds insane, we know, but in person it looked rich.
Designer? A custom Ted Baker. “It was made for me,” Martinez said. “I was modeling their clothes for New York magazine — since then, they make my clothes.” So now you know.