(Photo by Associated Press)
Just got off the phone with Edgar Martinez (who squeezed in a call in between business meetings). He admitted he was disappointed — and a bit puzzled — over his small vote drop in his second appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Last year, in his inaugural appearance, Martinez received 195 votes out of the 539 cast (36.2 percent). This time, he received 191 of 581 votes cast (32.9 percent). To make the Hall of Fame requires 75 percent, and a player has 15 years of eligibility (provided they get at least 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot).
“It’s not what I wanted, but it is what it is,” Martinez said. “I just hope that in the future my percentage improves.”
Martinez was realistic going in. Let’s just say he didn’t plan any victory celebrations.
“I knew for sure there wasn’t going to be an opportunity this year. I’ll wait and see what happens in the next few years. I know it will be several years before I have a good opportunity (to make the Hall). But it doesn’t help to see your numbers go down.”
Nevertheless, Martinez takes solace in the fact that someone like Bert Blyleven persevered and made it this year on his 14th attempt. In his second year on the ballot, Blyleven received just 14.1 percent of the vote — down from 17.5 percent his first year.
“I think if I can stay in the 30s for some years, there could be a chance,” Martinez said. “I know there have been players in the 30s, and 14 or 15 years later, they’re in.”
Martinez doesn’t know why his vote declined this year. “I can’t tell you,” he said.
But he does have a feel for why his candidacy hasn’t brought him closer to the promised land as of yet.
“I think the DH makes it tough for some people to support me,” he said. “There’s always been an argument, and I think it’s going to work against me, going forward. I know there’s a big division among voters.
“The other thing, some voters don’t feel I have enough numbers to go into the Hall of Fame, when you compare me to players with 400 or 500 homers, more RBIs, more All-Star Games. It’s very difficult when you compare numbers. As statistics like OPS and on-base percentage get more credibility, it could help my case.”
Martinez was very happy for fellow Puerto Rican Roberto Alomar, who rose from 73.7 to 90 percent, garnering the third-highest vote total in history.
“I played with him in Puerto Rico for many years, and against him in the American League for a lot of years,” Martinez said. “I’m very excited for him, and congratulate him. He was amazing all those years, one of the best players I ever saw. It’s well deserved.”
Does Martinez realistically expect to ever get a chance to join Blyleven and Alomar in Cooperstown?
“I really don’t know,” he said. “Right now, I think I still have a chance. I’m hopeful it will happen. But I realize I’m probably going to have to wait awhile.”