Dennis Martinez Readies for Hall of Fame Enshrinement
El Presidente is trying to get his golf game in order for induction week in St. Marys. And then there’s the matter of playing slo-pitch softball and making a speech.
Dennis Martinez was never much of a golfer until the last year and a half. This past Saturday, he was out in Miami hoping to play 18 holes but the day got shortened by rain so it was nine holes only.
The former Expos’ ace pitcher will be playing in a celebrity golf tournament Friday, a day before he’s inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame June 18.
The night before the golf classic, he has to get used to playing slo-pitch in another celebrity game. “They told me to bring my glove. I have to get ready, man,’’ he said, chuckling. “I’ve got my children getting involved with my speech.’’
Martinez will be accompanied to St. Marys by his wife Luz, his four children Dennis Jr., Erica, Gilberto and Ricardo and a grandson. No doubt, much of his speech will deal with his time with the Expos.
“Everything after my recovery (from alcohol problems) was with the Expos,’’ he said. In his time in the majors, Martinez talked the talk and talked a good game but give him credit, he backed up his words with action.
The old expression, “Action speaks louder than words’’ was one followed by Martinez, whose gift for gab enlightened media people like myself but some teammates never took to him for opening up too much. Here’s an example. On April Fool’s Day, 1991 near the end of spring training in West Palm Beach, a few of us reporters were standing around Martinez after the Expos traded outfielder Otis Nixon to the Atlanta Braves for catcher Jimmy Kremers.
“That was a horse…. trade,’’ Martinez snorted. “I thought we were relying on speed. That was one of the main things were were concerned about.’’
El Chirizo, as some fellow Nicaraguans call him, won 245 games during his major-league career, seven and a half seasons of which were spent with the Expos.
“Dennis was one of the best pitchers that I probably had the privilege of catching,’’ former Expos teammate Nelson Santovenia recalled. “He had great command and had one of the best curveballs I ever saw.
“He really knew how to pitch to each hitter. He was also a great competitor. He was great because you have to be really good to get inducted into any hall of fame. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be able to work with him in the major leagues.’’
Heading into the hall with Martinez are scout Wayne Norton, long-ago executive William Shuttleworth and trio of Blue Jays’ celebrities: pitcher Pat Hentgen, executive Howard Starkman and broadcaster Tony Kubek, who is unable to attend.
Adding a nice touch to the induction ceremonies will be the presence of Darrin Fletcher, who caught Martinez in Montreal and Hentgen in Toronto.
Danny Gallagher and Bill Young will be on hand in St. Marys June 18, signing copies of their books Remembering the Montreal Expos and Ecstasy to Agony.