Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Pedro finally learns the truth
By Jim Caple
"What can I say? I tip my cap and call the Yankees my Daddy."
-- Pedro Martinez, after blowing another lead to New York in the eighth inning on Sept. 24 and losing 6-4
Note: Martinez recently sat down with ESPN.com's Jim Caple about his controversial "Daddy" comment, which has spawned a new T-shirt line for peddlers outside Yankee Stadium and helped create a chant that Yankee fans will unleash upon Pedro in Game 2. The tape got ruined after David Ortiz sat on it, but we think this is what Pedro said.
"Yes. It is true. It brings me great shame to admit it, but the Yankees are my Daddy. I never knew until recently because my father left my mother before I was born.
"The Dodgers, of course, are my mother, and I loved her as I love life itself. She was the most beautiful woman in the world; and when I close my eyes now, I can still see her dressed in the purest whites and deepest blues you have ever seen. She sacrificed everything to raise me and my older brother, Ramon. She worked in the fields until her hands were raw and her back ached, and yet she always found time in the early evening to teach Ramon and I how to throw a beanball.
"One day when I was six and Ramon was nearly 10, we asked our mother about our father -- who he was and where he lived and when he would come home to teach us how to throw sliders. She only told us that our father was a very bad man, and then began weeping. She walked into her room, closed the door and stayed inside for three days. She ate nothing and drank only the tears that ran down her cheeks. We could hear her sobs even when we turned up 'Welcome Back Kotter' very loud; and when she finally emerged from the room, she said that we were never to ask her any questions about our father again. I tell you, these were the saddest moments of my life until Grady Little left me in too long in Game 7.
"Looking back now, I suppose there were clues to my father's identity I should have recognized if only I had opened my eyes wide enough to examine them closely. But so much of life is a deception, is it not? Even now, many Red Sox fans think we are going to win the World Series.
"I once caught my mother opening a worn shoebox and pulling out faded black and white photos of her when she was a girl in Brooklyn. Then she looked at a photograph of her as a young woman smiling with a man in pinstripes. When she looked at it, she made a strange sound and I could not tell whether she was laughing or crying -- it was similar to the sound Red Sox fans make at the beginning of each October. I asked who the man in the picture was, and she quickly put the photos away. She said only that he was a rich man she once knew in New York, and that I should not sneak up on her anymore and should instead go outside and practice knocking down 72-year-old men with Ramon.
"My mother also had a beautiful ring she kept protected under the mattress. Ramon and I never were allowed to look at it closely, but she would occasionally take it out to slip on her finger. We could see that it was gold with a ruby in the middle and small diamonds surrounding it and some sort of inscription. We asked why she didn't sell it in the market so that we could move into a better neighborhood with cable TV, and she said it was all she had left from our father and that she would never sell it. I understand now that it is a World Series ring, though of course, I have never seen such a thing up close.
"My mother died just before I reached the majors, and I was always sad that she never got a chance to see me pitch. But worse was the longing I felt for my father. Whenever I would see Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Bonds or Aaron Boone, I would feel such jealousy. Why did they have fathers in the game, and I did not even know who mine was? And why did they always hit so many home runs in extra innings? I would be so envious that I wanted to hit them all in the head with my pitches. And I usually did.
"And then I visited my old, beloved aunt, the Expos, in Montreal this summer. She said that she would be moving soon, she did not know where, and that I should know the truth about my father in case she never saw me again. She said that the Yankees were my Daddy and that though they were dishonorable and had treated my mother very badly by not marrying her and never once paying child support, I must seek them out and resolve our relationship, though perhaps I should have my agent phone first.
"It was painful to learn, but at least now I know the truth. The Yankees are my Daddy and I look forward to reuniting soon and getting to know him as a son should know his father, perhaps beginning next season if he will offer me a four-year, $60 million contract. Perhaps he will even take me to the World Series.
"But the truth about my father is not the most amazing thing I learned. No, the strangest part is what else I discovered.
"Don Zimmer is my crazy uncle."
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com