When the pearly gates of the Baseball Hall of Fame swing open on July 26th, there will be one man waiting at the front of the line, Pedro Martínez. Martínez made history on a historic day for Latinos in baseball when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. It was Martínez’s first time on the ballot for the Hall of Fame and he became just the fourth Boston Red Sox in history to be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Martínez received an overwhelming 91.1 percent of the vote, plenty more than the 75 percent minimum to be elected. He received 500 votes from the 549 members of the Baseball Writers Association who were eligible to vote and becomes just the second Dominican in the Hall of Fame as he joins Juan Marichal who was elected in 1983.

Martínez hails from Manoguaybo, Dominican Republic where he grew up poor living in a shack and emulating his older brother Ramón who broke into the big leagues ahead of Pedro and played for 14 seasons. 

“I’ve never forgotten that I lived in a shack, that I came from a poor community, a poor family,” he said in a televised statement from Fenway Park. “It’s one single celebration right now.”

Martínez ignited the Latino fan base and became the poster boy for Hispanic community during his historic career. At the pinnacle of his playing time, when he pitched at Fenway Park, the Latino community would stop what they were doing to watch Pedro pitch. The atmosphere was electric. Pedro Martinez was the main event on baseball’s biggest stage.

“It was like pitching a big game. I always thought I was going to win,” said Martinez as he ran around Fenway Park on Wednesday holding flags of both the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Pedro Martinez Red Sox Boston Red Sox's Pedro Martinez throw against the Los Angeles in the first inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Saturday, June 13, 2004. Photo by J Rogash/Getty Images

In addition to Martínez, left-handed hurler, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Houston Astros catcher/second baseman, Craig Biggio were also elected to Cooperstown. It was the first time that four players were voted into the hall of fame on a single ballot since 1955.

“It’s a great honor to be part of history,” said Martínez. “The Hall of Fame has got to be so proud right now to have the class that’s going in. To be honest I can’t wait to be near the three other guys going in with me.”

Martínez had a stellar career going 219-100 over the span of 18 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Montreal Expos, The Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. His career ERA is an impressive 2.93 and he currently ranks third all-time with an average of 10.04 strikeouts per nine innings. Martínez played for the Red Sox during the apex of his career where he won three Cy Young Awards and a World Series Championship.

“The voters today have made me someone really, really, really special,” he told the media. “It’s something that I never expected when I was playing the game. I took each day personally and enjoyed it. But I never expected to be here today. If I say I dreamt about it, it’s a lie.”

Martínez joins Ted Williams, Carl Yastrezmski and Wade Boggs as the only first ballot Hall of Famers that played most of their careers with the Boston Red Sox.

The past few years of the Baseball Hall of Fame have been mirrored in controversy as suspected steroid users, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire, some of the best players the game has ever seen, have failed to come close to gaining entry, a clear message by the BWA that cheaters never prosper.

Martínez maintains that he never once used performance enhancing drugs despite playing during age of baseball known as the “Steroid Era.” Martínez’s accomplishments against an uneven playing field are even more admirable especially when he was offered many times to take PEDs.

“I didn’t run the short fence to get to good health,” he said. “I went the long way, the way I had to go. The way that the integrity of my mom and dad taught me to have led me to. I did it clean. I did it the only way I knew. I carried myself during the game like there was a chip on my shoulder or like somebody was out there to kidnap my mom. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”