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Former Orioles right-handed pitcher Dennis Martinez, who managed the National League at this year's All-Stars Futures Game in Cleveland July 7, was honored to share his wisdom and baseball knowledge with the game's up-and-coming stars.
The Futures Game, one of the main events of Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities every year, showcases the top prospects from every club in baseball. This year's matchup ended in a 2-2 tie after eight innings.
"First of all, I was grateful that the MLB was able to consider myself to occupy that position. It's a big responsibility, being able to be around all the young prospects of Major League Baseball, because even though now they are the minor league's biggest prospects they are going to be in the big leagues soon," Martinez said on
Glenn Clark Radio July 9. "It was a great environment, I was really happy to be around those young guys. I felt young myself!"
Martinez, nicknamed "El Presidente," pitched for the Orioles from 1976-1986 and posted a 4.16 ERA with the club. Martinez, a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame, was particularly effective early in his tenure with Baltimore. In 1979, Martinez led the American League in innings (292.1) and complete games (18).
As a manager at the Futures Game, Martinez saw the job as an opportunity to teach and mentor the next generation of baseball's biggest stars. He preached to them that they must love the game of baseball, but also more importantly respect the game.
"I just told them that they were the luckiest guys," Martinez said. "There was a special kid at the same time with great talent in the minor leagues that wished they were here in your position, so I hope you guys understand that and take advantage of any opportunity that you get."
Martinez said that one of the biggest challenges as a manager of this game was making sure that every player got an opportunity to play, which was made tougher by the new seven-inning format. In the end, Martinez succeeded and was relieved that he was able to get every player in the game.
Another lesson Martinez preached to the kids he was managing was the ability to fight back from adversity. He struggled with alcoholism early in his career -- he was left off the Orioles' 1983 postseason roster because of it -- but Martinez later overcame his difficulties. After his time with the Orioles, he pitched for the Montreal Expos (1986-1993), Cleveland Indians (1994-1996), Atlanta Braves (1997) and Seattle Mariners (1998).
During the 1991 season with Montreal, Martinez led the majors in ERA (2.39) and pitched a perfect game.
"We only spend a short period of time [with the players], but I was able to communicate with them and let them know where I came from, the difficulty of my life and what I went through, how you're going to be able to persist and have faith in yourself," Martinez said. "They appreciated me after the game and thanked me for the opportunity."
The last lesson that Martinez wanted to instill in his players at the Futures Game was to not waste the opportunity of being a part of the All-Star festivities and being around the other up-and-coming stars. Martinez, a four-time All-Star during his career, wanted the prospects to take full advantage of their situation.
"You have a chance to be around the best of the best but at the same time you have to be able to have experience and learn how why those people are as good as they are. That's why you have the opportunity to talk to them and don't be afraid," Martinez said. "I was never afraid to ask anyone questions and I think that's part of why I developed the way I did. When you're around superstars you have to find out how they prepare, how they go about their business, why they're so good."
To hear more from Martinez, listen to the full interview here: