Saturday, November 13, 2010
#138) TED MARTINEZ
Ted Martinez was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on October 6, 1966. The Dominican Republic native was selected from the Mets minor-league system by the Houston Astros in the 1967 minor league draft. Houston decided to return him to New York before the start of that season on April 5, 1968. Martinez would make his major league debut on July 18, 1970 when the Mets faced the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He was the starting second baseman, but went hitless in the 4-3 victory. Teddy would appear in just three more games during which he appeared overmatched at the plate. So after managing just one hit in 16 at-bats he was sent back to Triple-A Tidewater to finish the season.
Martinez returned to New York the next season on July 5, 1971. Rotating between three infield positions he provided some fine offensive numbers. This time hitting for a .288 batting average in 38 games during the second half or 1971. His performance earned him a spot on the Mets major-league roster from the start of the 1972 campaign. When new third baseman, Jim Fregosi was assessing the club to Baseball Digest he said, "There's a lot of depth on this team...We can alternate Ken Boswell and Ted Martinez at second base and don't lose anything."
In an unheralded role, Martinez was a part of the success of the 1973 National League Champions. The Mets acquired Felix Millan to play second base, which meant Teddy became primarily a backup for Bud Harrelson at shortstop. During the pennant race he had the biggest game of his career. Martinez went 4-for-4, with a home run and four RBIs facing Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium on September 3rd. The victory important as the Mets won the National League Eastern Division by a slim 1-1/2 game margin. Teddy would see very limited action in the postseason. Appearing in two World Series games as a pinch-runner.
An injury forced Harrelson to the disabled list for much of the 1974 season and Martinez appeared in 116 games. His batting average fell to a low .219. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Mike Vail and Jack Heidemann on December 11, 1974.
After his playing career Teddy served as the hititng coach for the Sinon Bulls in the Chinese Professional Baseball league, before returning home to the Dominican Republic.
I created Ted Martinez's card in the set from an autographed index card that my friend, John Guzman got for me from Ted during a trip to the Dominican Republic on September 18, 2009.