Each Saturday, El Profe digs into moments in baseball history captured by a camera lens. These Iconic Images stir the soul, capturing more than a moment in a game. Today, El Profe looks back at the afternoon Pedro took over Cooperstown, and brought a fellow Hall of Famer up to join him for an incredible, Dominican moment.
Cooperstown, N.Y., had not seen an Induction Weekend quite like 2015. Dominican accents and Dominican flags were everywhere throughout the picturesque village. They were there for a grand celebration as Pedro Martínez joined baseball’s most elite club, the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The weekend’s highlight for me was Martínez’s induction speech. Pedro commanded the stage just like he did the mound. He knew what he wanted to do, even if the others didn’t know what to expect from the Dominican ace.
He spoke not only in English during his speech, but he also took time out to speak in Spanish about his family, his Dominican roots and his journey.
Pedro made his speech unforgettable when he called Hall of Famer Juan Marichal to the front of the stage. Then he asked Marichal to hold aloft a Dominican flag with him for the whole crowd and world to see.
This photo captured that goose bump-inducing moment when El Grande (Martínez) and the Dominican Dandy (Marichal) looked over the cheering crowd.
Pedro is beaming.
Juan is soaking it all in, holding the Dominican flag.
Surely, the Dominicans who made the journey to witness the ceremony live along with those watching the broadcast across the United States and in the Dominican Republic must have swelled with pride at seeing two dominicanos holding their bandera (flag) so proudly.
I did as well, especially as a fellow Latino who understood the history involved in Martínez joining Marichal.
Martínez was the first Dominican enshrined in the Hall of Fame since Marichal in 1983.
Much had changed in baseball during that span.
Dominicans had started with a trickling in of talented players in the late 1950s and 1960s. The San Francisco Giants were the first to develop Dominican talent with Marichal, Felipe Alou and his brothers Mateo (Matty) and Jésus, and Manny Mota key participants in that first generation to leave the island and make the big leagues.
By the 1990s Dominicans had become the primary source of foreign players in Major League Baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays built baseball academies. Other teams followed. Eventually, every organization had an academy in the Dominican Republic.
Martínez was the product of the new Dominican talent pipeline, following his brother Ramón into the Dodgers organization. However, he blossomed under Alou as his manager with the Montreal Expos before establishing himself among the game’s pitching greats as a champion with the Boston Red Sox.
Marichal and Martínez made history as Dominican pitching aces in the major leagues. Marichal won the most games in the 1960s even though a Cy Young award and a World Series ring escaped his grasp as a player. Two generations later came Pedro, winning three Cy Young awards and a World Series ring.
Importantly, Pedro didn’t forget the importance of the Dominicans who paved the path from small, rural Dominican villages to big league stadiums across the United States and Canada.
That made his gesture in calling up Marichal during his induction speech all the more grand. He was paying homage to Marichal, the first Dominican to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Indeed, what made my hair raise on edge in 2015 was that on the grandest stage, his grandest moment, Martínez made sure that he shared the adoration of the crowd with Marichal. It was the ultimate sign of respect and admiration.
Featured Image: Elsa / Getty Images Sport