Mariners hitting coach and former DH Edgar Martinez stands alongside his No. 11 jersey, which will be retired Aug. 12, 2017 against the LA Angels. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio KJR)
by Curtis Crabtree
SAFECO FIELD - Edgar Martinez may not yet be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he's about to get the Hall of Fame treatment from the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners announced Tuesday plans to retire Martinez's No. 11 jersey on August 12, 2017 prior to a game against the Los Angeles Angels. It will be a part of a full weekend celebration commemorating Martinez's career with the Mariners.
He will join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only two players in team history to have their numbers retired by the franchise. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 is also retired.
"This ownership group has a very high standard for retiring a number," Mariners’ team president and chief operating officer Kevin Mather said. "We’ve retired one in 39 years. Today it is my privilege, on behalf of Mariners’ ownership, our board of directors and every member of our organization, to announce that the No. 11 will be retired and displayed at Safeco Field next to Junior’s No. 24 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42."
The Mariners made the decision to retire Martinez's number on the heels of a significant increase in his vote total in last week's Hall of Fame voting. Martinez received 58.6 percent of the vote (259 out of 442 ballots cast), an increase of over 15 percent from his 2016 total of 43.4 percent. A 75 percent total is required for induction.
"It was a conversation we’ve had and then when the vote came out, it was a relatively quick call," Mather said. "Our board of directors had to approve it. But with just under 59 percent, we feel he’s well on his way to induction. It was a relatively easy conversation once the vote came out."
The number hasn't been worn since Martinez retired in 2004. The jersey was dusted off and Martinez continues to wear the No. 11 in his current role as Mariners' hitting coach, which he's held since taking over the job midway through the 2015 season.
"This is an incredible honor for me and my family," Martinez said. "This is a gift that we will share forever. I’d also like to thank my family. There’s a lot of sacrifices that goes along in a career in baseball. There’s a lot of people along the way that helped to make a player better — my managers and coaches. Obviously, Lou Piniella, through the years, I learned so much from him and he made me better. Players like Junior, Jay Buhner, who is here, Randy Johnson, players like that also made me better. And lastly, the greatest fans in baseball, the Mariners’ fans, gave me the motivation and also helped me have the drive and helped me through my whole career. They welcomed to me to this city and I’ve always had great support from the fans."
Martinez spent all 18 years of his career in Seattle. He posted a lifetime .312 batting average, .418 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage (.933 on-base plus slugging percentage) and won a pair of American League batting titles in 1992 and 1995.
He was a seven-time All-Star, won five Silver Slugger awards and five "Outstanding Designated Hitter" awards, which was later renamed the "Edgar Martinez Award" by Commissioner Bud Selig.
"It will be special," Martinez said. "That’s amazing. It’s something I would have never expected looking back at my career. It will be a reminder of how lucky I am to be able to play this game."
Griffey's iconic No. 24 was the first homegrown number retired by the team. While Robinson's No. 42 has been retired by all of baseball since 1997, Griffey was the first Seattle player to have his number retired. Martinez will be become the second.
The Mariners have a high threshold for retiring numbers. Griffey's was the first number to be retired in the 39-year history of the franchise. Despite many members included in the Mariners Hall of Fame, the bar for number retirement is even greater.
The guidelines from the team are as follows:
The Mariners plan to retire uniform numbers only very selectively and subject to substantially higher expectations than those applied to the Mariners Hall of Fame.
To be eligible to have one’s number retired, in addition to the criteria outlined above, the former Mariners should have either a) been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and been in a Mariners uniform for at least five years, or b) come close to such election and spent his entire career or a substantial portion of his career with the Mariners.
Eligibility shall not commence until after the former player has been voted on once for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which for all practical purposes means six years after retirement. In this regard, the Mariners will take into consideration the policy of other American League clubs in retiring uniform numbers. This determination will also be made by the Board.