WASHINGTON, D.C. -When Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez opened the 2019 season, he was just one of four Latino managers in Major League Baseball.
Throughout the postseason, Martinez stood as the only Latino manager among the 10 teams to receive playoff berths.
Now, when the Nationals take the field for the 115th edition of the Fall Classic, Martinez will be making history.
The 2019 World Series will mark the first time that the Fall Classic features Latino managers in consecutive years. Martinez will follow Boston Red Sox skipper Álex Cora, who won the 2018 title.
“For me and my family and all Latin Americans, it’s a great feeling,” Martinez said. “I’m proud to represent the Latinos. I know last year Álex [Cora] went to the World Series and won it. So, hopefully, that fits this year for me.”
Martinez, the third Latino manager in Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals history, helped engineer one of the greatest single-season turnarounds for a major league franchise.
On May 24, the Nationals had the third-worst record in the National League at 19-31. The team finished the season 93-69, good enough to host the NL Wild Card Game and have won every postseason series since, including a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.
At the time, not many would have imagined that the World Series would feature the Nationals. Martinez, who was in his second season as manager, was placed on the proverbial hot seat after having previously finished his first season two games over .500.
Of course, Martinez, himself, believed that a deep October run was possible.
“What’s a proverbial hot seat?” Martinez asked with a laugh when his job status in May was brought up.
He added, “Yeah, I imagined it (going to the World Series). That’s why I do what I do and that’s why I love what I do.”
Martinez’s clubhouse agrees that he deserves to be there.
“He’s been working all his career for this,” Asdrúbal Cabrera said. “When he got the job to be the manager of the team, that’s what he deserved.”
Cabrera added, “He’s the one who gave the opportunity to play everybody and [made] everybody feel confident on the team and [to] have fun.”
To get to this point, Martinez relied on multiple Latinos on his team, including 2019 MVP candidate Anthony Rendon and youth superstars Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
Additionally, he called upon veteran players like Cabrera, Gerardo Parra and Fernando Rodney to help guide the team and contribute when called upon. All three were previously DFA’d by their respective teams before joining the Nationals in varying roles.
“As soon as they (Texas Rangers) let me go, I thought that’s it for me that year, “ Cabrera recalled. “As soon as they (Washington Nationals), I was ready.”
Under Martinez’s guidance, they’ll get a chance to compete for baseball’s ultimate prize, something that’s previously alluded them.
“That’s the dream,” Cabrera said. “I think that’s the dream everybody [wants] to [have]. When you start this job, that’s where you want to be.”
Should Martinez and the Nationals win the World Series, he would become just the third Latino overall and the second Puerto Rican, following Cora’s 2018 win, to win the championship.
“It’ll mean a whole lot,” he said. “For me, it’s about just getting the opportunity to be there.”
Still, Martinez maintained that at the end of the day it’s not about him.
“It’s all about those guys back there,” Martinez said. “I’ve always said this, this has never been about me. It’s been about those guys that played 162 games-plus and got to this point. So, for me, I’m proud of them and I want to keep going.”
Feature Image: Getty Images