Edgar Martinez (born January 2, 1963 in New York, New York) is a longtime Major League Baseball player who retired at the end of the 2004 season. He spent his entire major-league career with the Seattle Mariners, a team in the American League West division. Martinez was one of the strongest hitters in the Mariners' lineup until his retirement, and was perhaps the greatest designated hitter (DH) in history. He is one of only a handful of players in history with 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300, and a career on-base percentage higher than .400.
In 1982, the Seattle Mariners signed Martinez to a minor league contract, where he would play in such locations as Chattanooga and Calgary. He would later play for the major league team beginning in 1987. He started out as a third baseman, winning a American League batting title in 1992. After a series of injuries, he became a full-time DH in 1995. To date, he is the only DH ever to have won a batting title (in 1995 with a .356 average).
Though born in New York, Martinez returned to his family's native Puerto Rico in 1965 when his parents divorced. He grew up in Dorado and graduated from American College. (He speaks English with a thick Spanish accent as a result.) A beloved figure in Seattle, he currently lives in Kirkland, Washington with his wife and children, and owns the Caribbean Embroidery Company in Redmond, Washington.
His eighteen seasons with the Mariners have won him seven All-Star nominations, along with two batting titles and four Silver Slugger awards. He is most remembered for his performance in the 1995 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. In that series, he hit a grand slam off John Wetteland in game 4 that gave the Mariners a 10-6 lead en route to an 11-8 victory. The win knotted the best-of-five series at two games apiece and forced game 5. In the 11th inning of that decisive game, Martinez hit a two-run double off Jack McDowell that won the game for the Mariners, 6-5. Baseball lore says that Edgar Martinez "saved Seattle baseball" with that double. While his series-winning hit did help build the groundswell that the Washington State Legislature eventually had to respond to (by enacting legislation to fund Safeco Field), it was one of many moments in a "miracle run" by the Mariners in September and October 1995 that changed public sentiment towards the team and towards public financing of a baseball-only stadium as a partial replacement for the Kingdome.
Some baseball critics have speculated that having spent almost all of his career as a designated hitter could limit his chances for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The recent inductions of Paul Molitor and Eddie Murray, however, seems to discredit this argument. Martinez was not given regular playing time in the major leagues until 1990 (when he was 27), despite hitting extremely well in the minors. Therefore, he has not amassed the totals for hits (Edgar has fewer than 2,300) and home runs (slightly over 300) that many associate with a Hall of Fame slugger.
The MLB award given annually for the best designated hitter is named the Edgar Martinez Award.
In October 2004, S. Atlantic Street between 1st and 4th Avenues S., just south of Safeco Field, was renamed S. Edgar Martinez Drive in his honor. In 2005, he was named the third baseman on Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team.
- August 9: Martinez announced that he would retire from baseball at the end of the season
- September 17: He got his 1,000th career run batted in as a designated hitter --a record for RBI at the position
- October 2: Officially retired at a huge ceremony in Safeco Field, attended by [[then-governor of Washington|]] Gary Locke, Seattle mayor Greg Nickels, and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig
- October 26: Martinez presented with the 2004 Roberto Clemente award, as "the player who best combines outstanding baseball skills with devoted work in the community"