“El Presidente” couldn’t be happier for “Big Sexy.”
Dennis Martinez, the Nicaraguan-born pitcher and four-time All-Star, won 245 games over a 23-year career in MLB, which ended in 1998. No Latin American-born pitcher had ever won more games.
That was until Bartolo Colon won his 246th on August 7 against Seattle.
“Twenty years I held that record,” Martinez, who is widely known as “El Presidente,” said. “Juan Marichal held it for 23 years before I took it. So, not bad.”
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Not bad at all.
Martinez was in town on Saturday to honor Colon for breaking his record.
“I think it’s a great achievement,” said Martinez, who is 41st on the list for all-time innings pitched at 3,999.2. “It’s a great honor for me to be part of that. It showed me the type of pitcher that he is. It showed me consistency and perseverance. That’s how I was and that’s the only way you can achieve these goals.”
Martinez, now 64, spent the majority of his career with Baltimore (11 seasons), but also spent considerable time with Montreal (7) and also had stints with Cleveland, Seattle, and Atlanta at the end of his career.
Colon has pitched for 11 different teams to date, including Cleveland (1997-2002), Montreal (2002), the White Sox (2003; 2009), Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels (2004-07), Boston (2008), New York Yankees (2011), Oakland (2012-13), New York Mets (2014-16), Atlanta (2017), Minnesota (2017) and the Rangers this season.
Martinez said he didn’t follow Colon’s career from the beginning because he thought that Seattle’s Felix Hernandez would eventually surpass him as the winningest Latin American pitcher of all-time.
“But all of a sudden, I think in 2010, I started following him because he might be the one to get it and he did it,” Martinez said. “He was powerful. He came to the Indians after I left (in 1996). He was powerful. He was one of those guys that looked like the Incredible Hulk. Now, still a little bit, but a little bit too much than before. He was solid. Now, that’s age. It catches up with you.”
Martinez said he called Colon a few days after the record to congratulate him.
“It was real quick because I think he was busy. ‘Hey man, I just called to congratulate you. You are the one who I wanted to get it because you deserve it. You deserve it. You’ve been working hard at it and I tip my hat to you,’ Martinez said.
“With Bartolo it’s hard to talk that much, I don’t know. He was, I don’t know if he’s shy. He’s a quiet man. He just likes to pitch.”
Colon has pitched 3,450.2 innings over his 21-year career. It’s that type of perseverance that Martinez really admires.
“His perseverance,” he said. “I know how hard it is. The older you get you start losing the zip on that fastball. You have to be able to pitch in the right location. It’s not easy to do what he’s doing.”
Martinez thinks the others on Texas’ staff could learn a few things from their elder teammate.
“I hope all of the Latin pitchers, not only the Latin pitchers but all of the staff of the Texas Rangers organization, can pick from him how to go about his business,” Martinez said. ”What did he do? Why is he where he is now? That can be a great example for the young guys coming up.”