Who's on first? Tino.
"I don't know why there have been so many guys named Martinez doing so well the last few years," Edgar says. "Just a coincidence, I think. It can't be the last name."
The Martinez tradition is a relatively new one. By the time the expansion era began in 1961, only one Martinez had ever played in the big leagues: the eminently forgettable Rogelio Martinez, a righthanded pitcher for the 1950 Washington Senators.
"Gee, I wish I could help you," says former Minnesota Twin manager Sam Mele, who was a teammate of Rogelio's, "but the name doesn't really ring a bell."
Perhaps he blinked while Rogelio was up. Rogelio's cup of coffee in the bigs was a demitasse. The Cuban-born hurler pitched twice, including one start, for a total of 1⅓ innings. He left the majors with an 0-1 record and 27.00 ERA.
Since then 22 more players named Martinez have played in the majors, most of them in this decade, as baseball in the 1990s has reflected the swell of the Latin population in America—just the way baseball in the '20s and '30s reflected the waves of Irish, German and Italian immigrants. Nearly one out of every five big leaguers is now Latin, and Martinez is the sixth-most common Hispanic surname in the U.S. In both 1993 and '94, the most common name on major league rosters was Martinez. (So far this year Williams has eclipsed Martinez as the game's most common name.)
Until this decade only one Martinez had ever been selected as an All-Star: Tippy (1983), a name that described the frequent condition of his Baltimore Oriole teammate, Dennis. Dennis sought help for his drinking problem after the 1983 season, but only after once driving his car through the side of a Howard Johnson's restaurant. ("Dennis," teammate Mike Flanagan told him, "Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's have drive-throughs. HoJo's doesn't.")
In 1985 Dennis looked like he might be washed-up, having just finished his third straight season with an ERA worse than 5.00. He was 31 when the Orioles traded him the following June to Montreal for Rene Gonzales, a utility infielder who was notorious for carrying his glove in a bread bag and having a batting average that was smaller than a bread box.
Remarkably, Dennis has won more games since the trade (119) than he did before it (108). He has more wins than Catfish Hunter, has thrown more innings than Carl Hubbell and needs only 17 wins to surpass Juan Marichal's record for most career wins by a Latin pitcher (243). Dennis rolls on despite torn cartilage in his left knee, which he suffered earlier this season.
"I am not too old yet," he says, "but I like it when people say you can't do something because you're too old. Every once in a while I need a tire replacement, and then I feel like a new car again."