Years ago, I was talking to Edgar Martinez hours before a game against Baltimore and Roberto Alomar interrupted us to give Edgar a big hug.
"This man," he said, pointing at Martinez, "is the best right-handed hitter in baseball. Everyone in the game knows it."
Today, Alomar went into the Hall of Fame - a flashy second baseman with all the skills you'd expect of a 12-time All-Star. Edgar? His voting percentage dropped from 36.2 per cent in 2009 to 32,9 per cent - well short of the 75 per cent required for induction.
" I’d love to see the percentage go up instead of down," Martinez said from his Kirkland business office. "That’s not what you want to see in second year. I didn’t have very high expectations. That’s my approach."
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On the field, Martinez batted .312 with a career on-base percentage of .418 playing for the Seattle Mariners. Yes, he spent much of his career as a designated hitter, and was so successful at the job that commissioner Bud Selig named the DH of the Year award for him. That was an acknowledge nearly as impressive as Alomar's.
"I remember Robby saying that, and at the time I felt the same way about him - he could beat you so many ways," Martinez said. "I'm happy for him. He was a great player, and that was a great compliment, coming from him."
And the decline in his own numbers among Baseball Writers Association of America voters?
"Totally out of my control," he said. "I know some hold the DH argument against me. Maybe in time that will change. The years I played, I did the best I could every day. I tried to be the best hitter in the league every year. A lot of years I was in the top ten. The fans were a factor, all the support we got in Seattle."
For now, Martinez will focus on business interests and The Martinez Foundation he and wife Holli founded to give scholarships to students of color who want to teach in the state of Washington. It's an issue he feels strongly about.
"We've seen the number of students of color growing while teachers of color haven't," he said. "It's been shown diversity early helps kids, and I want to help those who want to teach get the chance."
If you want to know more, visit The Martinez Foundation website.
Next month, his thoughts will turn to spring training.
"I’d like to go to camp for a few days with the Mariners," Martinez said. "I always loved that time of year. I don't have anything planned, but I would enjoy that."