Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Big Apple Recollections

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Big Apple Recollections

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Either on a mound or a dais, Pedro Martinez has always felt comfortable on stage in this town.

And during Wednesday's news conference to announce baseball's newest Hall of Fame class, Martinez - whose battles against the Yankees fueled the game's most spirited rivalry - spoke romantically of those Red Sox days.

"Yankees fans were really good at that, trying to intimidate you," Martinez said. "But deep in their heart they appreciated baseball ... they recognized greatness."

Such recognition was also extended Wednesday to Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio at the Waldorf-Astoria, where the largest Cooperstown class since 1955 was introduced.

But Martinez claimed the spotlight, even with Johnson's confession that he rather enjoyed his two years pitching in the Bronx.

"I had no remorse about coming here [via trade from Arizona]," Johnson said of his 2005-06 seasons in pinstripes. "I know it might be hard for a lot of people to believe that. [But] I came to New York because I wanted to. I love New York."

And when Johnson revealed that he could have gone instead to Boston because ex-Diamondbacks teammate Curt Schilling "really wanted me" on the Red Sox, Martinez shot back: "Why didn't you?"

Yet by 2005, Martinez had just started a four-year run with the Mets, where he experienced another side of New York.

"[In] Queens, they are wild, they are happy, they settle for what they have. Yankees fans cannot," Martinez said. In the Bronx, it's "win or nothing! And they're going to boo you. They're going to [shout], 'Who's your daddy?' "

Martinez and the Red Sox would rebound historically from the heartache of their late, Game 7 loss in the 2003 AL Championship Series at the previous Yankee Stadium, coming back from a three- game deficit in the 2004 rematch and ending Boston's epic world championship drought.

Martinez's electric presence made any ordinary game a must-see event. …

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