SEATTLE — Numbers are the bedrock of any Hall of Fame candidacy.
That’s why before and after the announcement last week that Mariners legend Edgar Martinez was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, his statistics were tossed around often in support.
A lifetime .312 batting average and .418 on-base percentage. Two batting titles, seven all-star appearances and five silver slugger awards.
But Mariners Chairman Emeritus John Ellis pointed at a different statistic Tuesday as to why the Seattle community has so fiercely supported Martinez through the years.
“The number that most impresses me,” he said, “Is 12/18/82. Because that’s the date Edgar Martinez first signed with the Seattle Mariners.”
Just over 36 years later, Martinez was back in front of the Seattle media for a press conference at T-Mobile Park to talk about his Hall of Fame induction.
Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, there’s no doubt Martinez has found an adopted home in Seattle.
It was a recurring theme on Tuesday, the relationship Martinez forged through the years with the Mariners and their fans.
“Thanks to the Seattle fans for an amazing 18 years as a player, and another 10 years supporting me for the Hall of Fame candidacy,” he said. “The support has been amazing — incredible.”
Martinez will be just the second player to go into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner behind teammate Ken Griffey Jr., who was inducted in 2016.
But unlike Griffey, who famously spurned Seattle after the 1999 season to go to the Reds, Martinez is Seattle’s through and through.
That includes five years in the minors on the way up and another 18 years in the majors. He’s even stayed connected to the team in retirement as an analyst and a coach.
In all, Martinez played in 2,055 games and came to the plate 8,674 times — all in a Mariners uniform.
“To stay in Seattle, it was a combination of a great relationship with the organization and also with the fans,” he said. “From the beginning of my career I just felt that great relationship. … It just felt right.”
All those years, brought dozens of team records and a handful of iconic moments.
He won the organization’s first two batting titles, and revolutionized the designated hitter position.
He was the cleanup hitter for the most potent Mariners teams in history, leading the franchise to its only four playoff appearances.
But it was his relationship with teammates, the organization and fans that he spoke of most fondly.
“It still feels amazing,” he said of getting the news he would finally be inducted after 10 years on the ballot. “Just to see the reaction from people is incredible.”
This summer, the culmination of all those years with the Mariners will earn Martinez yet another adopted home in Cooperstown.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “The journey has been amazing.”