April 6, 2004

Early Exits. An email from Jen: "I'm almost 100% sure that Pedro left Fenway before a game ended way back in 1999 or 2000. He started the game, and the Sox scored 10 in the first inning. He went the minimum, showered, and left a note for reporters saying that he left the game before it ended to go spend time with his nephews. Reporters even got a kick out of it and quoted the note in their articles. There was no controversy, no indication that he had broken a rule."

This game didn't ring a bell, so I went to one of the greatest sites on the Internet, Retrosheet. I clicked on the 1999 Red Sox game log and looked for any game in which Boston scored 10+ runs and Pedro was the winning pitcher. In a matter of seconds, I was looking at the box score for June 26.
White Sox  0 10  000  000  -  1  3  1

Red Sox 11 03 201 00x - 17 14 0
And sure enough, Martinez pitched 5 innings for the victory.

Jen later wrote: "I searched the Globe archives and found an article about Pedro written by an intern. ... My favorite line is 'Martinez's early exit from the clubhouse is just the type of bold move he isn't afraid to make. Somehow, the best pitcher in baseball finds a way to make people laugh every day, whether he's in the lineup or not.' Typical. They praise him for leaving the clubhouse early."

That line comes at the end. Some other snips:

"Above Pedro Martinez's locker, the nameplate reads: 'Pedro Zawacki.' Rich Zawacki is the name of the Red Sox physical therapist, but his surname fits the clubhouse prankster for other reasons. Yesterday, Martinez reminded us why for the umpteenth time. It seems like a waste of 17 runs when they come on the day The Protector himself is on the mound and a 1-0 lead probably would suffice. Nonetheless, Martinez turned in a five-inning, three-hit, one-run performance and left the building. For real.

"When reporters gathered in the clubhouse after the game, all that was left of Mr. Zawacki was a note that read, 'I felt good today, both physically and mentally. The day belongs to my teammates for their offensive production. Thank you. Love, Pedro.' And just like that, he was gone. Refusing to take the attention away from his deserving teammates, the grandmaster of gags left the stadium with his major league-leading 14th win, a major league-leading 2.08 ERA, and a major league-leading sense of humor. 'That's funny,' said Jason Varitek, who was 3 for 5 with his ninth homer of the season. 'You gotta love that.'"

Hmmm, it appears the "timeless baseball code" Dan Shaughnessy was blabbing about this morning began in July 1999. I know the CHB wasn't defending said code before Pedro came to town. On the redsox.com message board, "scbosoxfan" posted two old Shaughnessy columns from the mid-90s. In one of them -- dated June 11, 1996 -- the columnist notes, without comment, that a pissed off Roger Clemens left a Red Sox game before it ended:

"It's been a long year for everybody in Red Sox Nation. Each individual has a personal worst memory. For Roger Clemens, the low point came Saturday night when he was pulled from a game in the eighth inning with the Sox leading, 2-1. Boston went on to lose, of course, but Clemens wasn't around for the finish. He bolted Fenway before the bullpen blew the lead. ... 'I think we were still winning when I got out of there,' Clemens said last night. 'I know it's the fastest I've ever left the park. I think I snapped at Lou Gorman on the way out the door.'"

Fat Billy went on to bitch about his teammates and their lack of concentration. He also said this in response to a question about being traded in mid-season (1996 was his last year under contract in Boston): "I haven't thought about that. ... I don't know that I could feel right, other than in search for a ring. I couldn't come through Boston in another American League uniform. National League, maybe. I couldn't see myself with Baltimore or New York."

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