Former Yankee great Martinez, visiting Capital Area, praises current Bronx Bombers – The Daily Gazette
ALBANY — As first baseman on four winning New York Yankees World Series teams from 1996-2000, Tino Martinez is a pretty reliable source of information on what it takes for a Yankees team to go all the way. at the end.
Suffice to say, he’s pretty impressed with what he’s seen from the 2022 Yankees so far this season.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen in years that they really feel like they can win every game,” Martinez said Thursday during an appearance at the Center for Disability Services. “When they play they fall behind, they come back. They haven’t been doing that for the past two years. This year they seem to feel like when they go out they win every game no matter how bad they are. .
Martinez was in town as a special guest for An Aficionado Experience, a fundraiser for the Center for Disability Services held Thursday night at the Schuyler Meadows Club in Albany.
The latest in a long line of great Yankees who have attended the event over the past decade and a half, Martinez started his day with a trip to the Center for Disability Services, where he met students and staff from CloverPatch Preschool and Kevin G. Langan School, which greeted the former slugger with a catchy refrain of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as he walked through the doors.
“I don’t visit these places very often, but I should do it more, because it’s very rewarding,” Martinez said. “It’s a great place to bring friends and family and to meet people like that who are here. It’s hard, but it’s a great experience. »
“But,” he added. “I’m sure most of them don’t know who I am because they’re too young. But, one of [students] took this picture for me, so I could just show them, ‘That’s me.’ »
Martinez, who hit 339 career homers in 16 Major League seasons, spent seven of those years with the Yankees. The most notable of these was a six-year run from 1996 to 2001 that saw the Bronx Bombers reach the World Series five times and win four.
The successor to Don Mattingly as the Yankees’ first baseman, Martinez hit 192 of his 339 home runs in the Yankee stripes and hit a pair of memorable World Series home runs – a grand slam in Game 1 of the Series 1998 World Cup and a draw. blast in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2001 Series that set the stage for “Mr. November starting explosion later in the game.
“It’s kind of cool,” Martinez said, “remembering those days and the teams we had.”
Thursday marked Martinez’s second trip to the capital region in the past 10 months. Last August, he threw the first pitch at a Tri-City ValleyCats game in conjunction with his induction into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
He first came to the area more than three decades ago when, as a minor leaguer playing with Class AA Williamsport as part of the Seattle Mariners farm system, Martinez regularly made trips to play in a Albany-Colony Yankees club which included future teammates Bernie. Williams and Jim Leyritz, as well as a two-sport sensation by the name of Deion Sanders.
“They had just signed [Sanders]”, Martinez said. “So they had packed crowds every night.”
As for the current roster of the Yankees, who entered Thursday with a 46-16 MLB record while scoring the second-most runs and allowing the fewest runs in baseball, Martinez is hugely impressed.
He sees himself a bit in current Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo — “He plays the tough game,” Martinez said — but, hands down, slugger Aaron Judge is his favorite current Yankee.
“I love Aaron Judge,” Martinez said. “I’ve been watching him play since his days in Trenton. I’ve seen him progress through the minor league system, and not only is he a great player, he’s a great human being. He treats the fans, the people on the street well. He’s just a great guy, but also a great player.
With the MLB season just past the third point, Martinez argued against any bold predictions but acknowledged the Yankees are certainly on an impressive path.
“At this point,” he said, “if they keep playing like this, they have a great chance of winning the World Series. I mean, nothing’s guaranteed, but they’re definitely on that way.
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