The Young Edgar Martinez

Edgar Martinez spent a long time as a Mariners’ minor-leaguer before sticking with the team in the Kingdome. He began in Bellingham in 1983, and four years later, on September 5, 1987, the Seattle Times reported that he’d been named to the Pacific Coast League all-star team:

“Martinez batted .329 with 10 home runs and 66 RBI. Martinez, 24, won the Mariners’ most valuable player honor for Calgary. He hit .329 with 10 home runs and 66 RBI and had a .434 on-base percentage. He is regarded a brilliant fielder.”

(In a sign of how minor league success doesn’t necessarily translate into a long major league career, Edgar’s teammate, Cannons pitcher Mike Campbell, was named the Pacific Coast League’s most valuable player for 1987 with his 15-2 record and 2.77 era.) On September 15 of ’87, the Times added:

Edgar Martinez, called up from Calgary last week, hit .329 for the Cannons but his strength is said to be his glove. He showed why in the second inning last night. On consecutive plays, he dived to his left to take base hits away from Jay Bell and Andy Allanson [of Cleveland].

Then, as the leadoff batter in the second, Martinez showed why he hit so well as he bounced a triple off the center-field wall.

After the game, Edgar said: “It bothers me. In my first game, I would have liked to have won. When I crossed the line I was nervous. Then they hit it to me early. That’s good.”

On October 2, 1987, Bob Sherwin of the Seattle Times reported:

Two young lions, Edgar Martinez and Mario Diaz, say they are just trying to make a good enough impression to land a spot on the Seattle Mariners roster next season.

That would be fine with pitcher Mike Moore.

Moore was saved the embarrassment of a 20-loss season last night when the two youngsters from Puerto Rico came through in the M’s 8-6 victory over Texas.

Third baseman Martinez was 3 for 5 (single, double, triple) with two runs batted in. He has hit in all nine games he has started since his Sept. 12 call-up from Triple-A Calgary. He is hitting .385 (15 of 39) and playing errorless ball.

Shortstop Diaz was 2 for 4 with an RBI and is hitting .333 (7 of 21). But his real value came in the bottom of ninth when he dove to snag a line drive with two runners on base to preserve the M’s and Moore’s victory.

“They sure did look good tonight,” said Manager Dick Williams. “Edgar has been swinging the bat well and Mario made a great catch there at the end.”

The Mariners struck early against Mitch Williams, a reliever by trade in his first major-league start. With one out, Phil Bradley walked, then Martinez doubled to right. The double was the club’s 278th, breaking the record set in 1985.

Mickey Brantley then launched a three-run home run to left, his 14th.

The Rangers came back with two but the M’s scored two more runs in the fourth, thanks to a couple of Texas errors.

The M’s appeared to have broken the game open with a three-run seventh, highlighted by Martinez’s two-run single, but the Rangers pulled to within two in the eighth.

“This is the best you can ever get,” said Diaz. “The infields are outstanding. You fly at night so you can rest the next day. And the meal money is outstanding.”

Each player gets $47.50 a day in meal money, which for a seven-day trip such as this is $332.

“The meal money is just a little bit less than what I was making at Calgary,” said Martinez. “But the year before (in Double-A), that was my paycheck.

“To me, everything is first class. We stay at the best hotels, we don’t have to carry our luggage and you make better money in the big leagues.”

Martinez, who lives an hour and a half away from Diaz in Puerto Rico, has been on the same team with Diaz for two seasons. They are roommates and their conversations center on one subject most of the time.

“When we talk we always say we want to make a good impression while we’re here,” said Martinez. “Then we’ll see what happens in the future. I think I can play utility, third, second, wherever they want to play me I try to do it.”

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