Hey, sports fans! Today we want to contribute to what we’d like to call the Latin American Hall of Fame. Yes! And for our first delivery, we couldn’t leave Venezuelan baseball player Víctor Jesús Martínez out. In this article, we will share with you all we know about him. In this way, you can learn and share about the experience of a non-English speaker triumphing in the American sports industry.
Victor Jesús Martínez was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela on December 23, 1978. He played as a switch-hitting catcher and first baseman. He played for the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox, and the Detroit Tigers between 2002 and 2018. After winning several All-Star prizes, he retired in 2018.
Being a foreigner in the sports industry is not always an easy task to perform. Even though teammates’ and fans’ support may help, pressure is a constant factor to undergo. Along with other problems such as language barriers, this difficulty may make it very tough for foreign athletes to perform at their 100%. It’s not always about training hard. State of mind plays side by side on the pitch, and you decide what team it cheers.
After his signing as an amateur free agent in 1996, Víctor “V-Mart” Martínez played for the Cleveland Indians. In 2001 and 2002, he received the award of Indians Minor League Player of the Year. Along with the ‘Lou Boudreau Award’ recognition, some Minor League MVP awards, and batting titles, he made his way to the MLB in 2002. A September call-up in 2002 allowed him to become a Cleveland Indians MLB player.
During 2003, Martínez played for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons and the Indians. His statistics were not bad at all. On the contrary, they were pretty amazing. A combined .315 average, with a Major League .349 in August and September, were proof enough that he deserved to be a complete Major League player. Not to mention his ability in the strike zone. He reduced his strikeout totals and got selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game. From 2001 to 2003, he batted a combined .330 with 40 home runs and 194 RBI.
2004 was the first entire Major League season for Víctor Martínez. As a starting catcher, he set a record with 108 RBIs. This event earned him his first All-Star pick. He also shared the Silver Slugger award as the top-hitting American League catcher with Iván Rodríguez. It was the first tie since the award began in 1980. He had a perfect 5-for-5 game against the Seattle Mariners in July, becoming the best offensive night by an Indians catcher in history.
In 2005, he had the best batting statistics after the All-Star break with .382. That season, he finished with a .305 average, with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. The following season, he occasionally played as first base. He allowed 100 stolen bases, a record in MLB. He made his second AL All-Star team selection in 2007, hitting .301 with 25 home runs. Due to an injury, he only played in 73 games and had his career-low .278 batting average in 2008. However, during the following year, he hit his 100th career home run against the Chicago Cubs. He got his third All-Star Game selection and got traded to the Boston Red Sox.
Víctor Martínez played both first base and catcher for the Red Sox in 2009. He joined mid-season and split time on the pitch with Red Sox captain Jason Varitek. His 2009 combined totals threw a .303 batting average, 23 home runs, and 108 RBI. Together with a career-high in walks of 75, these numbers convinced the Red Sox to exercise his 2010 option for U$7.1 million.
But things went downhill for Martínez during 2010. Once again, an injury limited his season games. This time, a fractured left thumb kept him away from the pitch for a time, letting him play in 127 games. His batting average that season was .302, with 20 home runs and 79 RBI. Although the real reason is still unknown, this event may have influenced his transfer to the Detroit Tigers that same year.
On March 31st, 2011, Víctor Jesús Martínez made his debut for the Tigers. He played as a designated hitter, which became his almost exclusive role that season, against the New York Yankees. After a slow start, he adapted rapidly and became the first batter to hit into four double plays in American League after Goose Goslin in 1934. He also had his best career batting average that season, with .330.
During his time playing for the Detroit Tigers, Víctor Martínez had to undergo several medical situations. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2012 made him miss the entire season. And even though he managed to hit some career-best records after recovery, a torn medial meniscus had him into surgery in 2015. Once he got back on the pitch, he tweaked his knee again, which got him away for a time once more.
In 2017, Martínez left the pitch in the seventh inning complaining about a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and cold sweats. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he had to undergo several studies. Once back on the pitch, he reached the milestone of 2,000 career hits on July 7th. However, his irregular heartbeat became a significant worry to him and his club. His personal 2017 season ended with the announcement that he had to undergo cardiovascular surgery.
After a successful surgery and treatment, Víctor Martínez participated in his last season in 2018. The Cleveland Indians honored him before one of his final career games in September. The Tigers also held a ceremony for him before his last game on September 22nd. Both teammates and rivals hugged him and celebrated his successful baseball career end as he walked out of the pitch for replacement.
During his sixteen years in the MLB, Víctor Jesús Martínez received awards, broke records, and overcame injuries. These are his overall MLB statistics.
Boston Red Sox
|Awards and recognitions||5 All-Star selections
2 Silver Slugger Awards
We celebrate Martínez’s baseball career and honor his successful time at the MLB. As we mentioned before, there are many barriers that foreign athletes have to face. He is the living proof that they are not enough to keep you away from your goals. Set your objectives and aim your life towards them. Every single step you take counts. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more information and tips on English related to sports. Thanks for reading! See you next time!