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Pedro Martinez's 'parade' continues as Red Sox retire number

BOSTON -- The Summer of Love, Pedro style, continued unabated Tuesday night in Fenway Park, where the Red Sox honored newly minted Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez by retiring his number.

Upon a signal from David Ortiz, a fellow native of the Dominican Republic and the only Red Sox player on the current roster who played with Martinez, the red cloth covering Martinez's number was lifted. A red "45" emblazoned on a white baseball background took its place on the right-field grandstand, in between the number 14 of Hall of Famer Jim Rice and the blue 42 of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, whose number has been retired by Major League Baseball.

"Hola," Ortiz said, his greeting mirroring the start of the speech Martinez gave at his induction ceremony Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"I could tell you stories about this wonderful man all day," Ortiz continued. "My compadre, Pedro Martinez. He wasn't only an unbelievable baseball player. He was a leader. He was one of the best players and persons I've ever met in my life. He encouraged all of us to be not only better as a player but better as a human being, too. I really appreciate that. He's one of the reasons I'm very proud to wear this uniform."

Six other Red Sox players have had their numbers retired: Ted Williams (9), Joe Cronin (4), Bobby Doerr (1), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Carlton Fisk (27) and Johnny Pesky (6). Of that group, only Pesky, who was with the organization for 61 years, is not in the Hall of Fame.

As with his induction in Cooperstown, several notable figures from Martinez's past were in attendance, including Rafael Avila, the legendary Dodgers scout (and father of Tigers assistant GM Al Avila) who signed both Martinez brothers, Pedro and Ramon; Felipe Alou, the manager in Montreal who gave Pedro Martinez the chance to flourish as a starting pitcher with the Expos; Alou's brother Jay, who runs the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic and was the first person, Martinez said, to predict a big league future for him; and Tommy Harper, who was a coach with Montreal and Boston and was a longtime Martinez confidant and role model.

The Red Sox also rolled out many of their own, including owners John W. Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, to honor Martinez here. Nomar Garciaparra, who was in his second season with the Red Sox when Martinez arrived in 1998 and shared star billing with him until his trade in 2004, paid tribute by video. Fellow pitcher Tim Wakefield presented him with a check for his foundation. Former teammates Jim Corsi and Lou Merloni presented a grandstand seat. Curt Schilling, Trot Nixon and Orlando Cabrera, teammates on the 2004 World Series winner, gave him a computer loaded with video highlights of his playing career.

Harper and Sox legends Dwight Evans and Luis Tiant presented a piece of the Green Monster. And Hall of Famers Rice, Fisk, Yastrzemski and Dennis Eckersley gave him a sculpture of his hands, cast in bronze and carved in gold.

And Jason Varitek, the former Red Sox captain and the catcher Martinez credits for much of his success, caught the ceremonial first pitch.

"Just like old times," Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione said. "High and tight."

Martinez was greeted with dozens of Dominican flags and chants of "Pedro, Pedro."

"Today for the 'Pedro Day' was the same electricity that was built around every game I pitched," Martinez said in a media session after the ceremony. "I love that. That's what makes Boston unique. When I was standing by the podium over there, I could hear someone -- 'I love you, Pedro.'

"This is the only stadium you could probably hear that and feel the passion and love they're talking about. It's a unique feeling, being in Boston, dealing with these kinds of fans."

Martinez's ceremony delayed the start of the game against the Chicago White Sox by 18 minutes, the kind of delay, he said with a smile, he used to hate when he was playing.

"Hey, this is Pedro," he said. "This is my parade."

And after it was over, and he had thanked everyone, including the bat boys, clubhouse guys and team mascot?

"All I could do was reflect," he said. "When I saw everybody there, seeing the franchise standing right there, all the players on this side, the future on that side, reflect and reflect and reflect. Maybe one of these days I wake up and say, 'My God, did this just happen?' Because right now I'm in a bubble, I'm flying right now. I haven't really set my feet down yet."