BOSTON I feel like Im still in that parade, Pedro Martinez said. Every time I come back, its like a parade.
That parade, of course, is the duck boat ride around Boston Martinez and his teammates made possible by winning the 2004 World Series, snapping an 86-year drought.
Martinez was among the 212 Red Sox alumni who took part in a heart-warming pregame ceremony honoring Fenway Parks 100thanniversary. The players filed out individually, taking their positions on the field.
I call it home sweet home, Martinez said of the ancient park.
In his 18-season career Martinez had a record of 219-100, a .687 winning percentage, with a 2.93 ERA. In seven seasons with the Sox, he was 117-37 (.760, 2.52). At Fenway, he was 58-19 (.753, 2.74) in 95 career starts. But his memories are about more than just numbers.
Fenway has a way, he said.Its not like anywhere else. Theres nothing to compare it to. When you do something bad, youre going to hear itWhen you do something good, youre going to hear it.
For Martinez and his 04 teammate Kevin Millar, it was a treat to see so many former players, especially those who represented a different era. Bobby Doerr, the oldest living Hall of Famer who was born in 1918 -- the last year the Sox won a World Series before Martinez, Millar and his teammates -- and Johnny Pesky, born the following year, were there, too.
When Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr came out, that got me, Millar said. That was tear-jerking.
Pesky, a daily fixture at Fenway during Millars tenure, had a knack of making a younger player feel like he fit right in.
Johnny Pesky had a way Son, Ted Williams, you would have been his favorite, Millar said. Pesky, hes awesome.
It made me realize something, Martinez said. Not only were we blessed to bring that first championship to Boston, I realized how fast the time flieshow special it makes you feel to be part of something in Boston.
The 2004 team was special for both Martinez and Millar. It had something that couldnt be manufactured, they said.
Everybody contributed, Millar said. You cant buy thatYou cant replace what we had. We had good people.
Martinez and Millar, along with the rest of their 04 teammates, will always hold a special place in the hearts of Red Sox fans. They dispatched the ghosts of previous heartbreaks, bringing a championship to Boston after decades of futility.
It changed the atmosphere in Fenway Park.
I believe so, Martinez said. I believe it changed the load off all of us here in Boston. I think now Boston has so many reasons to brag.
Millar and Martinez led the Fenway crowd in a toast (nerve wracking, Millar said) to the park before the start of the game. They were toasting a place that hosted special memories.
For Millar, it was clinching the 2003 wild card and running with several teammates still in uniforms and spikes -- out of Fenway and taking over the bar at the nearby Baseball Tavern.
Martinez hasnt pitched in the major leagues since 2009 with the Phillies. Asked if he could make a return now, he replied:
No, not right now. Ill need at least 20 days.
Yes, he was kidding.
For Martinez, it was what he did as a pitcher, and what happened when he returned as an opponent that made Fenway special.
I might be the only player gone away from Boston and never been booed, Martinez said. I was very privileged to have been that player.