The induction of the Martinez brothers — Ramon, Pedro, and Jesús — into the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame was simply a no-brainer.
The trio was inducted in a pre-game ceremony Saturday on Retro Night at Isotopes Park. And for one night only, the Dukes’ moniker was emblazoned across the Albuquerque’s Isotopes’ bright-yellow uniform tops.
“The induction (of the Martinez’s) was based on what they did here,” said Isotopes general manager John Traub, before his team’s 12-5 win against visiting Salt Lake.
Traub said several Major League Baseball greats, such as Don Sutton and Steve Garvey, had pedestrian statistics during their Albuquerque stints.
The same cannot be said for the Martinez brothers. Over a 10-year period from 1988-1997, a Martinez brother pitched for the Dukes in all but three seasons.
During that span, the Martinezes combined for a 33-15 record.
“You look at the year Ramon had here; he was Minor League Player of the Year,” Traub said. “Unbelievable. He specifically, but even them collectively, they left their mark here. It was a natural, easy selection to have them go in as a triumvirate.”
Ramon was the lone Martinez brother to make it to the induction ceremony. Earlier on Saturday, the Isotopes reported that Pedro had difficulties with his flight connection.
Jesús had business commitments in his native Dominican Republic, and wasn’t scheduled to attend.
“I was pretty excited when I heard (the Martinezes) were coming,” said Albuquerque native Don Mitchie, a longtime Boston Red Sox fan.
Mitchie brought his 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series ball with the hope of adding Pedro Martinez’s autograph to the other signatures already on the ball.
“I’m a little disappointed, but that’s okay,” Mitchie said. “I heard that he may come back later this year.”
Traub said that the Isotopes will honor game tickets from Saturday as a raincheck ticket for any other regular season game aside from the July 4 contest.
Still, fans had the opportunity to meet Ramon Martinez, who signed autographs through the first three innings.
Saturday was Martinez’s first visit to Albuquerque in several years, and he remembers the fans with fondness.
“There was a lot of support from the fans, and I remember the former owner, Pat McKernan,” Ramon said. “He was a great person. I enjoyed the short time I was here.”
At a mere 19 years old, Ramon was promoted to the triple-A Dukes for the final month and half of the 1988 season. He stayed with the Dukes through the first-half of the 1989 season before getting the call-up to the Dodgers.
Ramon was a combined 15-4 with the Dukes with an ERA just over 2.70.
“It was a challenge pitching here,” Ramon said, referencing the altitude and the live ball. “To have an ERA of two-point-something here, you don’t see that very often. I proved that I was ready to pitch in the major leagues.”
It didn’t take Ramon long to impact the Dodgers’ rotation. Taking over the rotation spot once held by the retired Sutton, Ramon won 20 games in 1990, his first full season in the big leagues.
He was second in the Cy Young voting, and went on to win at least 10 games seven more times before retiring in 2001 after 14 seasons.
Along the way, he had to the opportunity to pitch with younger brother Pedro. First when Pedro was an up-and-coming reliever with the Dodgers, and later in 1999-2000 when Pedro was one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball.
“To me, that was the best time (in Boston),” Ramon said. “Pedro was the top guy with Boston, and I had time to spend with him and talk with him. We shared a lot of great moments there, and I had the chance to watch someone who could really dominate a game. I didn’t see anyone with that type of domination who could make great hitters look bad.”