Writing gets boring sometimes, especially when you’ve been doing it as long as I have, so this off-season I set myself a challenge: between the announcement of the Hall of Fame ballot and the closing of the vote, I endeavored to write one post per day about Edgar Martinez and why he should be in the Hall. (If you’re interested in reading any of them, they’re under the tag #EdgarHOF.) Over November and December, up until the deadline, I wrote 57 posts about Edgar Martinez (they would have been consecutive, but I gave myself Christmas off). Sometimes they were reflective, sometimes stat-based, sometimes—very often— silly. There weren’t a lot of people on the site then, in those cold winter months, and very often those posts felt like a conversation I was having with myself. (It was suggested, gently, on more than one occasion, that I need not carry through with the whole thing.) But those posts felt important, and making a space for Edgar, for what he means to me, felt important.
At Paxton’s last home start, I was sitting in the Maple Grove early with some of the Grovers, and a young girl, maybe 11 or 12, came up in a Paxton shirsey. They didn’t have seats in the Grove, her mom explained, but Paxton is her daughter’s favorite player and she was hoping she could maybe have an eh card? Meg (@Section331) dug an extra one out of her bag and handed it over, and this girl’s eyes got so big, looking down at the slightly-battered card like it was a holy object, like she couldn’t believe she was getting to hold and keep this thing, this direct connection to her idol; she posed for a picture near the tree and clutched it to her chest, grinning hugely, and in her face I saw myself at that age, clutching a program with Edgar’s face on it.
Heroes are important. They connect our tiny, fragile selves to something larger but still human; ourselves, but bigger, better. In studying Edgar from afar, constantly training my tiny telescope on his star, I saw a person who was talented, but hard-working; strong but resilient; quiet, but a leader; and above all else, kind. I saw someone I wanted to be, someone I still want to be.
Because the team has been without postseason success for so long, I think we forget that heroes are made and minted every day, that just as there is a generation of Northwest pitchers who wear 34 (hello, Max Engelbrekt), there are now kids requesting 65, 23, 22, 15. And those kids are being shaped by the team that’s before them. They look at Nelson Cruz tackle-hugging Seager after a home run and understand this expression of emotion is valid. They see Paxton stepping up to be the Mariners’ representative for Athlete Ally and know that equality matters to their favorite pitcher. They see the work Canó and Cruz do with helping their teammates, their home country, their communities, and understand the importance of giving back, that being great on the field is one kind of heroism, and off the field, another.
This week, the Mariners will enshrine someone who was great on both sides of the field, someone who continues to serve the one franchise he’s known. Let’s take this as an opportunity to tell stories about our hero, to tell them for the kids who won’t get to know him firsthand as a player, only as the wry smiling Buddha-figure in the dugout. Leave your Edgar stories in the FanPosts, and the staff will contribute ours, as we ring in Edgar’s induction to the Mariners’ Hall of Fame this weekend. Edgar, forever.