DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, July 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Only days remain until Hall of Fame Weekend begins in Cooperstown, NY. As excitement builds across the world, no country is more excited than Dominican Republic, for this is the year Pedro Martinez will take his rightful spot among the greatest Major League Baseball players of all time.
Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, will join Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz as the four newest players to be inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum July 24-27.
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1971, Pedro Martinez made his Major League Baseball debut in 1992. He won the 1997 NL Cy Young Award with the Montreal Expos, and was twice named the AL's top pitcher before helping the Boston Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. The first Latin American hurler to top 300 strikeouts in a season and 3,000 in a career.
In a press conference leading up to the induction ceremony, Martinez spoke of his excitement about the prestigious achievement and also about what it means for his home country.
"I'm excited to go in with this class. I think it will be the most unique Hall of Fame induction," said Class of 2015 electee Pedro Martinez. "I'm especially excited about the response of the Dominican people. I know a lot of people will be coming. We've waited (33 years) for our next player to go in after the first one (Juan Marichal), so it's a special moment."
Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia echoed Martinez' sentiment.
"Baseball is not just a sport in our country, it is a passion and a part of our culture," said Garcia. "We take an incredible amount of pride in the contributions that Pedro Martinez has made to the sport of baseball and look forward to cheering him on as he takes his rightful place among the greatest baseball players of all time this weekend."
Following his induction, the Boston Red Sox announced last month they too will honor Martinez by retiring his number. This is only the eighth number in Boston Red Sox team history (not including Jackie Robinson's #42, retired across all of baseball) to be retired. Just two days after the Hall of Fame ceremony, the Boston Red Sox will hang Pedro Martinez' #45 up for good in a pregame ceremony on July 28.
Martinez spent seven of his best years with the Red Sox, winning two of his three Cy Young awards with the team, making four All-Star rosters and finishing second in the MVP voting in 1999. While other pitchers may have lasted longer, there is perhaps no pitcher in the history of baseball who can match Pedro Martinez at his best. Pitching in tiny Fenway Park in the immediate wake of the 1998 Home Run record race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Pedro threw 430 innings over two seasons, recording nearly 600 strikeouts with a 1.90 ERA.
The History of Baseball in Dominican Republic
For over 100 years, baseball has been at the center of cultural life in the Dominican Republic. Though the origins of baseball in the Dominican aren't exactly known, historians suggest that baseball first came to the island around the 1880s. Though it is a historical misconception that American Marines brought the game to the island during the 1916 invasion, the United States did play an integral, though indirect, role in bringing baseball to the country.
The United States brought the game of baseball to Cuba in the mid-1860s. It is said that it was Cuban immigrants, fleeing their country's ten-year war, who spread the game throughout the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic. The first baseball teams on the island were formed either in the year 1894 or 1895. By the 1920's Dominican teams were competing against other Caribbean countries and teams in North America. The game enjoyed most of its popularity in the southeast of the country, where generations involved in the sugarcane industry learned the sport during the season's down time.
The sugarcane factory owners actually encouraged employees to participate in the sport and gave financially to the practice of this game. This area of the country still produces the greatest number of players who go on to play professionally. In fact, there are more Dominican players in the minor and major American leagues than there are of all other players of Caribbean nationality combined. All major league teams have training camps in the Dominican Republic, to scout and train players for professional potential. As it has each year since MLB began releasing annual data in 1995, the Dominican Republic once again leads the Major Leagues with most representatives from any one country. Of the 868 active MLB players, 230 of them (26 percent) are foreign born. Of these players, 83 are from Dominican Republic. This accounts for 36 percent of all foreign-born players and 10 percent of all active MLB players total.
No matter where you travel to in the Dominican Republic you are likely to find at least one Baseball Park close by. If you visit during the official baseball season, October to February, be sure to catch a game and feel the incredible passion the Dominican people have for their national sport.
Whether you're a lifelong baseball fan or curious to check out a game, Dominican Republic Has It All. For information on baseball, hospitality options, local excursion providers, natural attractions and more, visit www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.
About Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic's first tourist was Christopher Columbus in 1492. Rich in history, Dominican Republic has developed into a diverse destination offering both Dominican and European flavors to approximately five million global visitors in 2012. Named #1 Golf Destination in Caribbean & Latin America by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, Dominican Republic boasts 28 designer golf courses, upscale resorts, pristine nature and sophisticated cities and quaint villages filled with warm Dominican people. Dominican Republic features the best beaches, fascinating history and culture, and is a chosen escape for celebrities, couples and families alike. Visit Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism's official website at: www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.
BVK Public Relations for DR Ministry of Tourism
Annie Holschuh: (414) firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism