December 7 – Happy Birthday Tino Martinez

Tino Martinez was a great Yankee. During his seven seasons in New York, this Tampa native who was born in 1967, drove in 739 runs, hit 192 of his 339 career home runs and won four World Series rings. He also happened to be my wife’s all-time favorite baseball player. So instead of spending the rest of this post describing the biggest highlights of Tino’s career in pinstripes, I’m going to tell you a story about how my wife met Tino Martinez. It happened in my Oldsmobile Minivan outside of Yankee Stadium, about ten years ago and to those of you with your minds in the gutter, it was not “that” type of meeting.

My wife and I had taken our kids to a Yankee Game. As we were leaving the Stadium parking garage I was trying to maneuver the van into a certain exit line so I could take a simple right-hand turn and get onto the Major Deegan Expressway heading north toward home. I had driven to Yankee games at least forty times in my life and had parked in that same garage most of those times. From experience I knew if I used any other exit, barricades would block me from taking a right turn and force me to go left which meant I’d have to spend the next two hours riding through the unfamiliar streets of the South Bronx to get back on the Deegan going in the right direction.

That’s when my wife uttered her famous phrase. “Why are we waiting in this long line? There’s no cars over at that exit why don’t we just go out there?” My immediate reaction was to ignore the question and simply hope she wouldn’t ask it again. No such luck. I don’t remember if it was the third or fourth time she repeated her inquiry that I patiently tried to explain that the reason there were no cars at the other exit was because you couldn’t take a right-hand turn from that location. I tried to point out that every driver in the fifty or so cars in front of us and the one hundred or so vehicles behind us knew that if you took a left instead of a right from this side of the parking garage you would spend the next five hours driving underneath elevated subway platforms and past six thousand auto body shops with pit bulls chained to razor-wire-topped chain link fences, as you cruised aimlessly through South Bronx looking for the one and only sign in the entire borough that directs you to the Deegan North.Her response? “That’s stupid. I’m sure you can take a right from that exit too. Just go that way. We are going to be stuck in this line forever. I’d go that way if I were driving.”So what did I do? I gave up my place in line and drove to the other exit and sure enough as we drove through the gate the familiar wooden blue NYPD barricades blocked me from taking the right I needed to make and forced me left.

Why did I listen to my wife? Forgive my chauvinism but I know there are many married male readers out there who follow the same rule I do while driving in heavy traffic. If there’s a choice between doing something you know is stupid or not doing it and then getting in an argument with your wife over it, you just follow her stupid advice. Why? Because in the long run, spending two hours lost in the Bronx was better than spending the rest of the ride home and at least the next five days living with a woman who is mad at you for not taking her bad advice.

So I’m now outside the Stadium garage and I’m being forced to head either the wrong way on the Deegan or head back up River Avenue toward the same Stadium we were trying to leave. Usually there was a cop on duty at that corner forcing cars away from the Stadium but for some reason, that day there was just an empty police car sitting there. So I took the left and then I think another left and perhaps another, and before you know it, I had gotten my van onto Ruppert Place which runs right alongside the Stadium itself. In front of me was the same ramp to the Deegan I normally took when I made the correct right hand turn out of the garage. The only thing blocking my path was a huge bus, sitting right there in the middle of the intersection with its passenger door open. We were so close to the bus that we could actually see through the reflective glass of the closed passenger windows.I was about to ask the question, “Isn’t that Tino Martinez in that window?” when I heard my wife screaming at the top of her lungs, “Teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeno Marteeeeeeeeeeeeeenez, over here, I love youuuuuu! Teeeeeeno! Teeeeno!”

She was actually standing on the front seat of our minivan and had somehow gotten the entire top three quarters of her body out of the passenger side window yelling as loudly as possible and waving her arms and hands frantically. I had never in my life seen a human being get so excited about seeing a baseball player and evidently, neither had Tino and the rest of the Yankees. My better half (or I should say three quarters of my better half) was making such a commotion that Constantino “Tino” Martinez actually opened his passenger window, laughing at my wife’s enthusiasm, and yelled hello and waved to her. As the bus began to move, me and the kids were able to successfully pull my wife’s contorted body out of the window and get her buckled back into her seat. As we made our way back up the New York State Thruway that evening and I listened to my wife and kids talk and laugh about our encounter with the Yankee player’s bus, I was glad I took that stupid left instead of waiting in line to make my usual right.

Today is also the birthday of this six-time Gold Glove winner and these two former Yankee outfielders who all played their best baseball before they put on the pinstripes.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1996 NYY 155 671 595 82 174 28 0 25 117 2 68 85 .292 .364 .466 .830
1997 NYY 158 685 594 96 176 31 2 44 141 3 75 75 .296 .371 .577 .948
1998 NYY 142 608 531 92 149 33 1 28 123 2 61 83 .281 .355 .505 .860
1999 NYY 159 665 589 95 155 27 2 28 105 3 69 86 .263 .341 .458 .800
2000 NYY 155 632 569 69 147 37 4 16 91 4 52 74 .258 .328 .422 .749
2001 NYY 154 635 589 89 165 24 2 34 113 1 42 89 .280 .329 .501 .830
16 Yrs 2023 8044 7111 1008 1925 365 21 339 1271 27 780 1069 .271 .344 .471 .815
NYY (7 yrs) 1054 4244 3770 566 1039 189 11 192 739 17 405 546 .276 .347 .484 .831
SEA (6 yrs) 543 2139 1896 250 502 106 6 88 312 3 198 309 .265 .334 .466 .801
STL (2 yrs) 288 1123 987 129 264 50 3 36 144 4 111 142 .267 .345 .434 .778
TBD (1 yr) 138 538 458 63 120 20 1 23 76 3 66 72 .262 .362 .461 .823
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2013.

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