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The retirement of a favorite (or at least favored) player is always bittersweet. Back in '80, my favorite player (and I still can't really tell you why he ever earned that title), one Ken Henderson, stepped away from the game after 16 seasons split among seven teams.

Today we learn that the greatness of ex-Jay Dave Martinez, after 16 seasons with eight teams (what it is I have about journeyman outfielders who never quite lived up to early billing, I don't know) has doffed his cap for the last time as a major leaguer.

Martinez was one of those guys that you couldn't help but root for; you watched him and you knew he was giving his damn best to the game, no matter if it was a September game with pennant implications — he played in too few of those, unfortunately — or a late June Devil Rays/Rangers matchup before hundreds of loyal fans at the Trop.

Martinez, who spent the last year rehabbing from an injury that never came around, even pitched two games in his career, compiling a 13.50 ERA for the Expos and White Sox — which, come to think of it, might have qualified him for back-of-the-rotation status for either of the aforementioned Rangers or Rays.

In a nice twist of serendipity, Martinez and Henderson even had basically the same career itinerary, as both played for the Giants, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Rangers and Braves; Hendo also made a brief stop in Shea while Martinez appeared with the Devil Rays (a team that, of course, did not exist when Henderson retired) and the Blue Jays, entering him into the once-exclusive fraternity of players who've graced the rosters of both Canadian teams.

In what we can only hope is an accident of timing rather than some spiteful curse of the baseball gods, Martinez left the Cubs just before they squeezed into the '89 playoffs, left the Expos before their great run in '94, left the Giants before Barry Bonds became BARRY BONDS, finished second twice with the solid White Sox squad of the mid-90's, joined the Reds after their last World Series title and went to the Rangers after their three trips to the playoffs in the late '90's.

At least the baseball gods smiled on Martinez in his final year in the game, spent with the NL East Champion Braves, with whom he snuck into five post-season games, mostly as a pinch-hitter, to close out his career.

We can't say "farewell Davey, we hardly knew ye," because just about every major league city knew him. But a good-bye seems in order.

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Coach - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 01:59 PM EST (#33790) #
Without ever being a star, and with only intermittent stints as a regular, Dave Martinez had a .341 OBP in almost 6,000 AB -- the kind of career that tends to go unnoticed, except by his teammates, and Mick.

I wouldn't presume to psychoanalyze Mr. Doherty's choice of heroes from afar, but maybe he was a fourth OF on his little-league team. Jay Jaffe calls his fine blog Futility Infielder for similar personal reasons.

I remember Dave Martinez making a number of great catches at critical moments, extending rallies, and as Mick says, demonstrating an obvious devotion to the game. A well-deserved tip of the cap to a real pro.
_BillE - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 10:39 PM EST (#33791) #
I was so delighted when Dave Martinez came to the Jays. Hoped he'd play every day, although as Craig Grebeck once remarked, "If I'm out there every day, something's wrong."

Dave was among the indelible images in my mental slide show for a catch he made at the Dome, I think in '97 (maybe his best year-- hit 318, slugged 468, 393OBP,) he refused to give up on a twister down the right-field line--faster guys might have let it go after half a dozen strides-- dove full-length, picked it off the grass just foul and slid all the way to section 114. Ballsy player.
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