Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dennis Martinez, at 41, Still Does Things His Own Way

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dennis Martinez, at 41, Still Does Things His Own Way

Article excerpt

We in the newspaper business are supposed to be objective. We should size up athletes and teams with the hard, discerning eyes of an IRS agent checking your deductions.

Today, I can't do that.

Today, I'm writing about Dennis Martinez, and Dennis Martinez is one of my all-time favorite players, period. And Tuesday night Martinez was scheduled to pitch against the Indians in the Kingdome. It is his first start with Seattle - and it could be his last. I hate this. I hate to see Martinez just hanging on, trying for one more year, a few more victories. I hate it that the Indians may be the team that sends him home to Miami. I keep thinking about Oct. 17, 1995. That was when Martinez took the mound in this same Kingdome. Only he was pitching for the Indians, and he was facing Randy Johnson. "Randy was Goliath; I was David," Martinez said. It was Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, and the Indians had a 3-2 lead in the series. If Martinez had lost on that evening of Oct. 17, 1995, there would have been a Game 7. But Charles Nagy would have pitched for the Tribe in Game 7. At that point in his career, Nagy never had won at the Kingdome. If you are an Indians fan, your churning stomach tells you what would have hap pened to Nagy in that Game 7. But Martinez took care of that. In what became the most important game in the last 41 years of the Tribe franchise, Martinez pitched seven scoreless innings in what became a 4-0 victory. He stuck that baseball-sized wad of tobacco in his mouth and pitched the game of his life. He was 40 years old, and he never was better. That night was only the most astounding, exciting, exhilarating and memorable experience I've ever had at a ballpark. I witnessed the Indians win a game that sent them to the World Series, and I never thought I'd live to see that day. Many Indians fans who watched on TV feel the same way. "I still have Cleveland fans coming up to me, thanking me for winning that game," Martinez said. "They shake my hand. They show me their Wahoo caps. I have never seen more enthusiasm from fans than our fans in 1995." That is why it shouldn't come down to this. …

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