'Destiny took me to Boston': Pedro Martinez reflected on unlikely Red Sox trade in 1997 (2024)


"I absolutely learned to love Boston from day one to the last day I played there. And up to today, I love Boston."

'Destiny took me to Boston': Pedro Martinez reflected on unlikely Red Sox trade in 1997 (1)

By Hayden Bird

Pedro Martinez looked back on the improbable trade to the Red Sox: One of the best decisions in recent Red Sox history arrived in late 1997 when, in need a of an ace to top the team’s Roger Clemens-less pitching staff, Boston general manager Dan Duquette pulled off a deal for newly-crowned National League Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez.

Martinez, a pitcher as talented as he was charismatic, proceeded to win two more Cy Young Awards while in Boston in one of the most dominant stretches by any pitcher over the last 50 years (done at the height of the steroid era). He was also a member of the 2004 team that won the first Red Sox World Series title in 86 years.


The trade, which sent young pitchers Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Montreal Expos in exchange for the then-26-year-old Martinez, takes its rightful place among the best in team history.

And yet, it completely shocked Martinez when it was first announced. Now a studio analyst for MLB Network, the Hall of Fame right-hander offered some colorful retrospective commentary about the deal, and what it ended up meaning to his career and life.

For starters, Martinez — as he has discussed before — initially wanted to go to Boston’s fiercest rival, the Yankees.

“Guess what? When they asked me at the end of ’97, when I won the Cy Young, where would you most likely go if you have a choice? New York,” Martinez explained. “Oh, if it’s not New York, Baltimore. If it’s not Baltimore, I said I would’ve loved to go to Atlanta, but they don’t need me. They had great pitchers.

“Out of the National League, I chose San Francisco,” he added.

Yet Duquette and the Red Sox got there first, scooping up the extremely talented Martinez right at the beginning of his prime years.

“And then, all of a sudden, I’m walking around and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, Pedro got traded to Boston,'” he recalled. “I’m like, what? Boston? No Cleveland, no Baltimore. Because I was thinking of a team that would give me a legit chance to win.”


Aware that they could not keep him, Expos manager Felipe Alou was conscious to try to send his young star to a place that could contend.

“Felipe told me you deserve to be in a team that would give you a chance to win. And Boston had finished last that same year, and I was like, oh man,” Martinez said. “All of a sudden I packed my bags and here I am in Boston.”

Martinez’s memory isn’t completely correct: The 1997 Red Sox finished with a 78-84 record in fourth place, two games above the Blue Jays. Still, the team appeared rudderless in its first season following Clemens’ contentious decision to leave for Toronto in free agency.

The addition of Martinez helped to turn things around.

“We went right back to the postseason [in 1998],” Martinez satisfyingly remembered.

Told by fellow co-host Harold Reynolds that he couldn’t picture Martinez in the Hall of Fame as anything other than a member of the Red Sox, the longtime Boston ace agreed.

“Me neither,” concurred Martinez. “I absolutely learned to love Boston from day one to the last day I played there. And up to today, I love Boston. I’m so proud and so glad that destiny took me to Boston.

"When they asked me at the end of '97, 'Where would you most likely go if you had a choice?' New York. If it's not New York, Baltimore." 👀@45PedroMartinez shares how the course of MLB history could've changed forever as he neared free agency for the first time. #MLBTonight pic.twitter.com/FfKlm5XDJJ

— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 14, 2024

Trivia: Since Pedro Martinez struck out 313 batters in 1999 on his way to winning the pitching triple crown (leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts), only three American League pitchers have crossed the elusive 300-strikeout plateau. Can you name them?


(Answer at the bottom.)

Hint: One did so for the Red Sox, the other two for the Astros.

Scores and schedules:

The Celtics are in Dallas to face the Mavericks at 8:30 p.m. in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Up 3-0 in the series, Boston can clinch Banner 18 tonight with a win.

The Red Sox defeated the Phillies 9-3 on Thursday, with Tanner Houck allowing three runs in six innings. Tonight, the Red Sox begin a three-game series at Fenway Park against their old rivals, the Yankees. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

Tomorrow, the Revolution play the Vancouver Whitecaps at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

More from Boston.com:

  • Houck tosses 6 solid innings and O’Neill slugs a 3-run homer in 9-3 Red Sox victory over Phillies
  • Joe Mazzulla offers update on Kristaps Porzingis’ status for Game 4
  • Kendrick Perkins, Stephen A. Smith blast Luka Doncic after Game 3 performance
  • Jayson Tatum explains why he isn’t worrying about Finals MVP talk
  • Ken Rosenthal lists Alex Cora’s potential landing spots this offseason
  • Julian Edelman says he’s ‘excited’ about Drake Maye’s future with Patriots
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst called out Luka Doncic’s ‘unacceptable’ performance in Game 3 loss vs. Celtics
  • Xavier Tillman stays ready, helps Celtics’ defensive effort in Game 3 win over Mavericks
  • Mavericks’ Luka Doncic questioned officiating after fouling out in Celtics’ Game 3 win in NBA Finals
  • 15 memorable moments from Tom Brady’s Hall of Fame ceremony

Tom Brady reflecting on his time with the Patriots:

“This organization made me the person that I am today.”@TomBrady is beyond grateful for the @Patriots and all they have done for him. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/XkFturkZHm

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) June 13, 2024

Jaylen Brown’s anecdote: The Celtics forward recalled when former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called to ask him about Jayson Tatum prior to the 2017 NBA Draft.

Jaylen Brown recalls when Danny Ainge asked him how he felt about a prospect… the prospect was Jayson Tatum 👀 pic.twitter.com/GtrxG6AusE

— NBA (@NBA) June 13, 2024

On this day: In 1998, Michael Jordan drilled the iconic game-winning shot to defeat the Jazz 87-86 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, clinching Chicago’s sixth (and final) championship of the Jordan era.

— NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 14, 2018

Daily highlight: Arike Ogunbowale of the Dallas Wings showed off incredible range in what was ultimately a 92-84 loss to the Seattle Storm.


— ESPN (@espn) June 13, 2024

Trivia answer: Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole

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'Destiny took me to Boston': Pedro Martinez reflected on unlikely Red Sox trade in 1997 (2)

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'Destiny took me to Boston': Pedro Martinez reflected on unlikely Red Sox trade in 1997 (2024)


What are some interesting facts about Pedro Martinez? ›

He won five ERA titles en route to a career mark of 2.93, captured six WHIP titles and averaged 10.04 strikeouts per nine innings. When he retired, he was one of only four pitchers with at least 3,000 strikeouts and fewer than 1,000 walks. Martínez was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015.

When did Pedro leave Red Sox? ›

Pedro Jaime Martínez (born October 25, 1971) is a Dominican-American former professional baseball starting pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1992 to 2009, for five teams—most notably the Boston Red Sox from 1998 to 2004.

Why is Pedro Martinez in the Hall of Fame? ›

An eight-time All-Star, Martinez finished his 18-year big league career with the New York Mets (2005 to 2008) and the Philadelphia Phillies (2009). In all, he recorded 219 wins, a 2.93 ERA and is one of four pitchers to complete their career with more than 3,000 strikeouts (3,154) and less than 1,000 walks (760).

Did Pedro Martinez throw a no hitter? ›

The 1991 ruling also wiped out 12 no-hitters by pitchers who threw nine innings of no-hit ball only to yield a hit in extra innings. That narrow definition kept Pedro Martínez out of the exclusive no-no club, even though his ball is featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame's “No-Nos and Perfectos” exhibit.

What is a famous quote from Pedro Martinez? ›

Pedro Martinez's quote, "I never gave up on a game, I fought until the very end," encapsulates the relentless and resilient spirit that characterized his illustrious baseball career. Known for his fierce determination and unwavering commitment, Pedro Martinez was a true embodiment of never surrendering to defeat.

What years did Pedro Martinez pitch for the Red Sox? ›

Martínez signed a six-year contract worth $75 million in 1997 with the Boston Red Sox, which made him the highest-paid player in baseball at the time. For 1998–2004 (he was on the disabled list for much of 2001), he had 117 wins and 37 losses, winning the American League Cy Young Award in 1999 and 2000.

Who did the Red Sox trade to get Pedro Martinez? ›

The trade, which sent young pitchers Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Montreal Expos in exchange for the then-26-year-old Martinez, takes its rightful place among the best in team history.

Why did the Expos trade Pedro Martinez? ›

But with Martínez set to become a free agent following the 1998 season, the Expos decided to look to the future and traded Martínez to the Red Sox. In return, Montreal got pitchers Tony Armas and Carl Pavano – the latter considered one of the top prospects in the game.

How fast did Pedro Martinez throw? ›

Pedro was clocked on radar throwing 99-100mph in his prime. At that time they used radar to calculate pitch speed and it measured the speed of the ball when it was a few feet in front of home plate.

Did Pedro Martinez win a gold glove? ›

Pedro Martinez didn't win the Gold Glove award in his career.

Does Pedro Martinez have a ring? ›

Pedro Martinez won 1 championship in his career.

What does Pedro Martinez do now? ›

As one of the preeminent pitchers of his generation, Martinez, now 51, brings a sense of authority to his jobs as a studio analyst for TBS and MLB Network. And as a regular supplier of killer quotes dating back to his playing days, Martinez also brings the triple crown of charm, charisma, and candor.

What team threw a no-hitter and still lost? ›

On April 23, 1964, Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt . 45s became the only pitcher to lose a complete game no-hitter in nine innings when he was beaten, 1–0, by the Cincinnati Reds. The winning run was scored by Pete Rose in the top of the ninth inning via an error, groundout, and another error.

Who threw 2 no-hitters? ›

More than 9,000 men have taken the mound in a big league game, but what pitcher Johnny Vander Meer accomplished more than three quarters of a century ago by tossing back-to-back no-hitters is considered by many one of the game's most unbreakable records.

How many games did Pedro Martinez win? ›

Pedro Martinez played 18 seasons for 5 teams, including the Red Sox and Mets. He had 219 wins, 100 losses, an ERA of 2.93 and 3,154 strikeouts. He won 3 Cy Young awards and 1 World Series. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.

What has Pedro Martinez done for the Dominican Republic? ›

Pedro's commitment to providing support, assistance, and educational programs that positively impacts the lives of children and families in low income communities began with a donation of land in the Dominican Republic that would evolve into a community center that would serve thousands of children and families.

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