Welcome to the Hall
Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio inducted into shrine
Three pitchers who became dominant after trades and a rocksolid catcher-turned-second baseman entered the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio basked in the moment, with at least 40,000 fans cheering them one more time.
Many waved Dominican flags for one of their own. Martinez joined former Giants great Juan Marichal as the only Hall of Famers from the Caribbean nation.
“We waited 32 years another Dominican,” Martinez said. “I hope all Dominicans remember this.”
Playing through an era tainted by steroids and ruled by offence — compliments of bulked-up sluggers, a smaller strike zone and smaller ballparks — Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz proved indomitable. They combined for 735 wins, 11,113 strikeouts and nine Cy Young Awards.
Biggio, who played four positions in his 20-year career, all with the Houston Astros, was indefatigable, becoming an All-Star at second base and behind the plate.
“We changed the culture in Houston by making it a baseball city,” said Biggio, who grew up on New York’s Long Island. “To the Astros fans, you guys are the greatest fans in the world.”
Martinez, 219-100 for his career, was the first Red Sox pitcher inducted.
Remarkably, all three pitchers didn’t stick around with their first clubs very long. Drafted by Montreal, Johnson made the Expos roster in 1988 and midway through the 1989 season was traded to the Seattle Mariners.
Smoltz, signed by his home- town Detroit Tigers after being selected on the 22nd round of the 1985 amateur draft, was dealt to Atlanta for veteran Doyle Alexander in August 1987.
And the Dodgers traded Martinez to Montreal after the hardthrowing right-hander with the pinpoint control had a solid rookie season in the bullpen.
Johnson, at 6-foot-10 the tallest player elected to the Hall of Fame, gave special thanks to his parents. His father died in 1992. His mother, Carol, was watching from the front row.
“Thank you, mom. You’re the Hall of Famer,” Johnson said.
Smoltz won the 1996 Cy Young award and reached the playoffs 14 times with Atlanta. He’s the first pitcher to win more than 200 games and save at least 150 games.
He’s also the first player inducted with Tommy John surgery on his resume.
Smoltz understood his debt to John.
“I’m a miracle. I’m a medical miracle,” Smoltz said. “I never took one day for granted.”
Newly-inducted National Baseball Hall of Famers, from left, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez hold their plaques after an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday.