Pedro, a pitcher with ‘no space to fail’

first_imgOn the mound, he was a wily wizard ferociously staring down hulking batters as his pitches mercilessly blew past them. But off the field, he radiated pure joy, a playful prankster with the soul of a poet. Those confusing impulses seem impossibly contradictory unless your name is Pedro Martinez. And then it makes perfect sense.The retired Boston Red Sox pitching great and now Baseball Hall of Famer toured Harvard before stopping by Sever Hall Tuesday evening for a lively conversation with Michael Sandel, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, hosted by The Harvard Foundation.The two touched on Martinez’s difficult road to the major leagues, during an era when performance-enhancing drugs were widely used. They discussed his family and faith, and some of the more memorable moments in his remarkable and improbable 18-year career, including his thoughts on being sent late into Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees despite pitching on one day’s rest. (“That was shocking!” he joked. “I’m still asking for that answer from [then-manager Terry] Francona!”)“Ever since I started, I had no space to fail,” Martinez said of growing up in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic, in a tiny shack crowded with his parents, five siblings, and a few scattered chickens and cows, playing baseball in the yard with his brothers and cousins. While money was tight and food was scarce, his parents made it clear that hard work and determination were abundant and free.The Red Sox retired Martinez’s uniform number 45 last fall at Fenway Park, and in July he became only the second Dominican player, after San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal in 1983, to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. His bilingual acceptance speech was less a celebration of his own achievements than it was an expression of gratitude to be shared with all Dominicans.“I would like you to actually see me as a sign of hope for a Third World country, for Latin America, someone that you can really look up to, and feel comfortable enough to say, ‘I’m proud of you,’ ” he told the crowd that day.Despite the early success of his older brother Ramón, a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Martinez said baseball scouts never projected that he’d amount to much because he was a small, skinny kid who didn’t look like the typical ballplayer. The anger he felt watching others with lesser skills — but who were bigger and stronger — being given the few available opportunities to do what he loved fueled a competitive fire and relentless desire to prove the skeptics wrong.“I never said anything, I listened a lot. I kept it all in,” said Martinez. “Now I’m speaking openly about it, but back in those days, I just had to listen, swallow it, and bring it out competing.”The slights cut deep, but the stakes were simply too high to let his true feelings show as a young player from the D.R.“That piles up in your heart,” he said, “But as soon as you snap in one of those [baseball] academies, being from where I am, you’re out. You guys are disciplined here, very educated, but over there, there’s no other chance.”Even after he made it to the “show” — first with the Dodgers, then the Montreal Expos, and later the Red Sox — Martinez’s drive never wavered. But it didn’t dampen his excitement and joy at finally having reached a lifelong goal.“I was so thankful I was there, I was so thankful to keep my teammates happy,” Martinez said of his chatty, spirited demeanor when not in the game. “Every game I survived was a blessing. I wasn’t supposed to make it; I was supposed to fall short.”Despite the many difficulties on the road to fame, Martinez said that in retrospect he wouldn’t have had it any other way.“I became a lot wealthier than I was when I was in the shack, for sure, but I don’t know that I would trade my childhood for probably any other. My struggles, I don’t think I would give them away for anything,” he said. “My struggles made me appreciate every little success I had in my career.”last_img read more

Costantino, Richardson stymie Connecticut offense with superb performances in net

first_img Published on March 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] Syracuse goalkeepers Alyssa Costantino and Kelsey Richardson have shown over the course of the season, especially in SU’s last two games, just how lethal of a tandem they are. Syracuse head coach Gary Gait has a unique luxury of choosing between two high-quality goalies, and lately his choices have been spot on.Richardson, a sophomore, allowed no goals in the first half in No. 6 Syracuse’s (4-2, 1-0 Big East) 18-7 victory over Connecticut (6-1, 0-1) on Friday at the Carrier Dome. Before UConn scored at the 25:28 mark of the second half, Richardson and Costantino  held opponents scoreless for 67 minutes and 31 seconds, dating back to SU’s win over Towson on March 9.Gait said the scoreless streak was a result of a strong combined effort by his goalkeepers and his defense.“In both games our ride has been tremendous,” Gait said. “We’ve caused a ton of turnovers and have limited the number of opportunities that the other team has had. And until the last ten minutes of the game [today] we did an unbelievable job of limiting their offense and the number of shots they had.”Connecticut scored four goals in the last minute and 19 seconds of the game, long after the outcome had been decided and when many SU reserves were on the field. The quick burst turned an 18-3 rout into a more respectable 18-7, making the goalkeeping and defensive stats look worse than they actually were.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange defense held the Huskies to 18 shots, with only five coming in the first half. Becca Block, Natalie Glanell and Katie Webster held UConn leading scorer Lauren Kahn (who came into the game with 16 goals, 14 assists) virtually silent. Kahn took just two shots, one of which came with a minute and 39 seconds remaining when the game had been long decided.Richardson faced five shots in the first half and two in the second, allowing just one goal in 45 total minutes before being replaced by Costantino at the 15:49 mark of the second half. The sophomore finished with six saves.“I credit that a lot to my defense,” Richardson said. “And the ride. The attack played awesome riding. And our defense, they had a lot of what would have been fast breaks, but our defense got back in, defended well, and gave me a lot of pressured shots. Which are easy saves.”The Orange held a 13-1 lead when Costantino entered.Connecticut midfielder Catherine Gross hit the post with 9:17 remaining in the first half; Richardson made a nice stick save on UConn midfielder Elizabeth Brown on a free-position shot with three minutes left in the first half to preserve the shutout. For the first half, the Huskies didn’t come closer to scoring than that.SU’s scoreless goalkeeping streak came to an end when Huskies midfielder Morgan O’Reilly scored at the 25:28 mark of the second half.With the Orange leading 16-1 at the 13:41 mark, Gait “reached deep” in his bench and gave several inexperienced players the chance to play. The Huskies outscored the Orange six to two for the remainder of the game.Connecticut’s second goal of the game, which came from the stick of Carly Palmucci, didn’t come until the 11:02 point of the second half. Gross scored a free-position goal moments later to make it 16-3.The four-goal onslaught started with a free-position shot goal from attack Ally Fazio, followed by goals from O’Reilly, Katherine Finkelston and O’Reilly again.And apart from the last minute of the game, an outlier that will sway the stats to look worse than reality, Costantino and Richardson made saves when they needed to.“I thought Regy Thorpe put a great plan together,” Gait said. “…Our team did a great job and really made it tough for them to score.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more