3 batters, 9 pitches, 3 strike-outs

Mary Kay called to ask if I wanted to go to Boston.
“Let me see if the Red sox are in town,” I said.
It was spring of 2002. She had a conference at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Something about operating room lasers. I guess it was pretty important. But all I could think of was an opportunity to see Fenway Park.
Baseball fans love baseball parks and I am no different. While I haven’t had the time to experience as many as I’d like, I hope to click off at least the historic ones before I die, and you don’t get much more historic than Fenway.
Turned out the Red Sox were at home that weekend and with Seattle, to boot. The Mariners had won their division the year before, setting a record with 116 wins. Of course, I’d be going with her.
Before we even checked in at the Holiday Inn in Brookline, I told the young guy at the desk I had two questions. One, was there a shuttle to the hospital because my wife had to be there first thing in the morning? And two, could I walk to Fenway from there?
“You’re that guy’s hero,” Mary Kay said as we headed to the elevators.
“I am?” I asked.
“Well, you didn’t say anything about a conference, you just told him I had to be at the hospital. For all he knows, I might need surgery. But you’re going to the ballgame.”
But the next morning it looked like I would not be going to the ballgame. It was pouring.
If I couldn’t see a game, I was determined to at least see Fenway, so I headed out on foot, rain or not. I was soaked by the time I got to the park, about a 20 minute walk, but I didn’t care. I walked all the way around it, peeking in wherever I could, and bought a couple of shirts at a shop across the street. I’m not a Red Sox fan, but you have to come home with a shirt.
By the time I got back to the hotel, I had to find a laundromat with a clothes dryer. The sound of my sneakers tumbling around was deafening, when someone burst in and said, “Hey, the game is back on.”
Sure enough, the skies were clearing. They pushed the start back two hours, but they were going to play.
The game was sold out, but I was pretty sure I’d get a ticket from someone and I did, first row along the third base line. The guy I bought it from had two season tickets. He said his daughter was supposed to join him but couldn’t make it. He charged just the face value, but I would have paid three times that.
Just laying eyes on the legendary Green Monster and eating a Fenway Frank would have been memorable enough, but it turned out Pedro Martinez was pitching for the Sox. What a treat. He had already won three Cy Young Awards making him one of the best pitchers in the game.
And that day I got to see why.
He struck out the first three Mariners on a total of 9 pitches. They call that an “immaculate inning.” It’s been done only 28 times in the history of the American League and only three times in the first inning.
Even mild baseball fans know why I am telling this story today. Pedro Martinez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
He will be inducted along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio on Sunday, July 26, in Cooperstown, New York.
If you’ve never been to Cooperstown, you need to tidy that up. And not just to see the Hall of Fame. The source of the Susquehanna River lies in Cooperstown. I’ve drunk the river’s water out of my cupped hands at the precise spot.
More on that another day.

Ed Ackerman