Legendary Mariner meets a plethora of fans

Edgar Martinez visits Bellevue Barnes & Noble to promote his book.

A large contingent of Seattle Mariners fans traveled to the Bellevue Barnes & Noble to meet one of the most popular athletes in the history of Seattle sports.

Seattle Mariners legend Edgar Martinez, who was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his final year on the ballot this past January, attended a book signing on June 12 at the Bellevue Barnes & Noble promoting his new book, “Edgar: An Autobiography.”

The book, which was written with Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone, drew a massive audience of Martinez fans to the bookstore. Mukilteo resident

Yosh Shimono wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to meet his favorite Mariner. The 50-mile roundtrip journey didn’t discourage Shimono in the least bit.

“This is ‘Gar,’ the best Mariner there has ever been. He has been an inspiration, not just to people like myself but also for the kids. He is a wonderful human being. That’s why I’m here,” Shimono said while waiting in line.

Stone, who has known Martinez since 1996, concurred wholeheartedly with Shimono’s assessment.

“What everybody loves about Edgar, I got to see close up. He is just a kind hearted, good decent person. That was a really special aspect of this book,” Stone said.

The friendship between Stone and Martinez played an undeniable role in the idea of the autobiography getting off the ground.

“It was a great experience. Larry followed my career. We’ve known each other since the early 1990s. To work with him, the experience has been great. I’m just amazed how quickly he put this together. It’s not like he had a lot of time. He did an amazing job putting the book together,” Martinez said of Stone.

Stone approached Martinez during spring training in 2018 about the possibility of writing a book about his life and career.

“I had been kicking around the idea of doing the book. He (Martinez) was the hitting coach and I was covering spring training, so I just pulled him aside on the field one day and said, ‘You interested in doing a book?’ He kind of thought about it for second and said OK.”

Stone interviewed Martinez throughout the 2018 baseball season.

“I would go to his house and interview him about his life. The sessions were maybe an hour or hour and a half at a time. We did it throughout the season. I had a January (2019) deadline. I was still working around my schedule (Seattle Times columnist) because it was in the middle of football season. I took a couple of weeks off and hammered it out. I turned it in Jan. 1. The rest of the time was editing and now promoting,” Stone said with smile.

Martinez, who lives in Yarrow Point, has fully embraced the Seattle region since suiting up with the Mariners for the first time in 1987. Martinez also has also resided in Kirkland and Bellevue in years past.

“It has been an incredible area to live and raise kids. I have felt like there has been a great relationship built with the people in this area. I have had the fortune to be able to work and being able to help with some nonprofit organizations. It has been great. It’s just been ideal for me and my family,” Martinez said.

Martinez discussed the toughest pitchers he’s ever faced before meeting a sea of fans at Barnes & Noble.

“I had to face Nolan Ryan, Pedro (Martinez), Randy (Johnson) and (Bert) Blyleven. I played against a lot of great pitchers through my career. One of the toughest was Nolan Ryan. My numbers are pretty ugly against Nolan,” Martinez said with a laugh. “It is just incredible to say that I faced Nolan Ryan. I feel very fortunate.”

The play that defined Martinez’s career in a nutshell was “The Double” down the left-field line in Game 5 of the 1995 American League Divisional Series against the New York Yankees. The blistering line drive down the left-field line, which scored Ken Griffey Jr. from first base, gave the Mariners a 6-5 victory in 11 innings. It remains the most iconic play in the history of the Seattle Mariners organization.

“The double was the key play in my career. I know I had a pretty good game the day before (two home runs and seven RBIs in Game 4) in that series in 1995 but the double, everybody remembers that. Obviously, I never will forget that either,” Martinez said.

Edgar Martinez throws out the first pitch for the Mariners game on March 28. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Edgar Martinez throws out the first pitch for the Mariners game on March 28. Andy Nystrom / staff photo