Welcome to the Hall

John­son, Martinez, Smoltz and Big­gio in­ducted into shrine

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY JOHN KEKIS

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.”

AP PHOTO

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.

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