One of the arguments against Edgar Martínez’s Hall of Fame case is that he didn’t have the kind of gaudy numbers posted by some of his peers during those days of wine and roidses, especially in home run totals. But this overshadows the fact that, between 1995 and a year before his retirement year, he never put up fewer than 20 home runs per season except an injury-hobbled 2002, and usually averaged around 25. In 2000, he “shot his age,” hitting a career-best 37 home runs in his age 37 season.
And he’s still got it! Remember when Edgar hit a home run in batting practice this year and everyone freaked out? Not just “hit a home run,” really, that’s underselling it. At age 53, he hit it practically onto the train tracks at Minute Maid Park—Nelson Cruz territory. Here’s hoping that he’ll do it again this year, and this time someone will have their phone handy. (Fun fact: Edgar’s last year in the league, 2004, was the first year cameras were available on most cell phones! Time is definitely not a cruel joke!)
So, for the remainder of this series, every Friday we will commemorate one of Edgar’s finest home runs, to punt your work week into the stratosphere. To be frank, home runs aren’t my favorite. I like them, and I think they’re fun, but I love situational hitting so much more. A base hit through an infield hole to score a run late in the game in a pitcher’s duel—if I could roll it and smoke it I’d be the Snoop Dogg of seeing-eye singles. But there’s nothing like a home run: the intake of breath as you watch the ball rising into the night, the tightening somewhere in your midsection, and then the release, the mad joy, when the ball finally breaks free of the orbit of the outfield and barrels away into the night. We were so lucky, those of us who grew up watching him, because Edgar, with the precision of a Swiss watch, gave us both.
So, in honor of Edgar hitting stadium features with baseballs, here’s Edgar in 1998, hitting a ball so high at Tropicana Field it hits a catwalk.