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Tino Martinez is getting a plaque in Monument Park for some reason

May 8, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

When I think monumental, I totally think Tino Martinez. Don’t you?

Torre is obvious. Bernie I get too. I mean, he’s no National Baseball Hall of Famer in my mind, but he has a non-ridiculous argument and he is certainly well-qualified for a team-specific Hall of Fame. He was really the face of the Yankees’ return to dominance back in the 90s, even if Jeter later came to define that dynasty. I’ll even make allowances for Paul O’Neill. I think that stretches things a bit, but fans loved that constantly-annoyed man an awful lot, so good for him and them.

Tino, though, I really don’t get. He was never the best player on any of those teams — his best year was the non-World Series year of 1997, but even then Bernie was better — and he was cast over the side when Jason Giambi became available. Our own Matthew Pouliot notes that Martinez is 52nd all-time among Yankees position players in Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR. To make up for that you gotta be a pretty big fan favorite, I think. And unless I’ve missed something, Martinez doesn’t tend to pump up Yankees fans. Indeed, the most love I recall him receiving was retro-love once Giambi sorta went bust in New York and some people wished Tino was back.

Monument Park is the Yankees’ own Hall of Fame and they can put anyone they want in it. But if you’re gonna put Tino Martinez in it, forgive the rest of us if we don’t speak about it in the hushed tones Yankees people do. It was one thing when it was Mantle, DiMaggio and all of those other guys, but Tino Martinez makes it a somewhat less-than-elite club, does it not?

  1. Caught Looking - May 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Kei Igawa and Brien Taylor are getting ones too – monumental busts.

    • Kevin S. - May 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      I don’t think the situations Igawa and Taylor found themselves in could possibly be less similar.

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - May 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    You get a plaque, and YOU get a plaque and YOU get a plaque! Everyone gets a plaque!

    • Jason @ IIATMS - May 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      hmmm, the HTML police killed this:

  3. tysonpunchinguterus - May 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    He hit 192 HRs over 7 seasons and he averaged 29 HRs per season during his first stint with the team. That first stint coincided with 4 World Series titles and another World Series trip. He was an important part of that dynasty, so I have no problem with him getting a plaque to honor his contribution to that run of titles. It’s not like they’re giving him a momument.

    • jonusb - May 8, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      By the author’s standards, the Yankees should only be giving out such honors to players – beloved or not – who were a cut above the rest in their positions (both on the team and throughout baseball). I guess that means he feels A-Rod should already have a spot reserved there.

  4. senioreditor2 - May 8, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Just like Little League, everyone get a trophy!!!!!!!!!!

  5. yahmule - May 8, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    He told them he was going to kick someone’s ass if he didn’t get a plaque and they were just like, “whatever, Tino.”

  6. jerseydevi1 - May 8, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Tino belongs. 1998 against the Padres, 2001 the HRs against the D’backs when the city needed them to win. Not to mention how he handled coming in after Donnie Baseball.

    Grew up in the area, lived there through this Dynasty and Tino was as much a part of it as anyone else. If you aren’t or weren’t a Yankees fan then you might not get it, that’s fine but he belongs.

    • Balladeer - May 8, 2014 at 5:37 PM

      But they didn’t win in 2001…

      • TheMorningStar - May 8, 2014 at 6:49 PM

        Yankee fans can be so delusional sometimes…losses turn into wins over time, ha ha.

      • brkviking - May 8, 2014 at 10:40 PM

        So the Fisk HR should be wiped from the highlight reels?

  7. uyf1950 - May 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    “Tino Martinez is getting a plaque in Monument Park for some reason”. Maybe because he was a integral part of the 4 World Series teams that won titles from 1996 through 2000. That’s just a guess on my part. Is he any less deserving of a plaque in Monument Park in Yankees Stadium then someone who gets elected to the Baseball HOF in their 13, 14 or 15 try after failing to be elected so many times before? I don’t think so.

    • TheMorningStar - May 8, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      When is Charlie Hayes getting his plaque/monument/wgatever? After all, his catch is what kicked off the dynasty.

  8. sdelmonte - May 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    It’s totally weird that the Yankees, who have already overstuffed Monument Park, race to add more and more players. While across town, a team that has one bona fide Hall of Famer so far takes its time adding players even though you would think they want to play up the high points.

    I guess in the Bronx, they think “everyone who ever played here is a god, no matter what the BBWAA says” and the Mets think “well, most of these guys were pretty good and fan favorites, but we should sleep on it.” It would match the usual self images of both.

    • sdelmonte - May 8, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      BTW, Monument Park is a pain to get to. I think it’s not even wheelchair accessible somehow.

      • yankeesfanlen - May 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        You are correct. Would have thought NYS would have it in the concourse,

      • sdelmonte - May 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        All that space in the concourse, and the monuments are still in the outfield – tradition! – and that swell little museum is squeezed in someplace out of the way as well.

      • sdelmonte - May 8, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Just looked it up. According to the Yankees site:
        “Monument Park is accessible via elevators near Gate 8. Please ask Yankee Stadium staff for assistance.” In other words, you really have to want to get there.

    • jonusb - May 8, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      So the Yankees, who obviously have many what you call “bona fide” HOF’ers, have a problem with honoring too many of their former players; while the Mets, who “has one”, takes their time? It looks like you just answered your own question, bub. And if you think the Mets should honor more (Tom Seaver, Gooden, Hernandez, etc.), vent it out to them. That’s not the Yankees’ problem.

  9. brandotho - May 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Joe Torre’s getting his number retired, but let’s focus on Tino Martinez getting a plaque and display total outrage. I don’t agree with it, but it’s not like they’re retiring his number like Rizzuto. Should they have retired Reggie Jackon’s number even though he only played five seasons here?

    “Who’s next? Brosius? Mariano Duncan? Irabu?”

    Laughable to bring up Duncan or Irabu. Martinez was a constant mainstay in the Yankees lineup that time and he was the runner-up for MVP to some guy named Ken Griffey, Jr. I don’t agree with it, but the Yankees do love honoring anyone who is a constant contributor to their history. If guys like Mel Stottlemyre and Roy White spent their primes on contenders, they’d be held in higher regard. That’s why Tino is getting this honor, whether it’s deserved or not.

    “And unless I’ve missed something, Martinez doesn’t tend to pump up Yankees fans”

    What? He had to deal with the pressure with replacing Mattingly, and he ended up becoming a fan favorite after making the adjustments. Helps that he had those two big moments in the playoffs.

  10. Bhavin Bavalia - May 8, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Tino Martinez also happens to be giving the commencement speech at Fordham University on a day when they’ll be honoring Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

    I’d say that that is more baffling.

    • negaduck - May 8, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      Well, I don’t get it, but I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than me.

  11. yankeesfanlen - May 8, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    Tino was a fan favorite in the Bernie,Swish, Damon kind of way. Put him in.

    • bronco58lb - May 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Tino has always drawn loud, thunderous ovations from the Yankee faithful. He’s like the Willie McGee of the Yankees.

  12. gothapotamus90210 - May 8, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Andy Stankewicz, Tim Leary, Pat Kelly and Kevin Maas are going in next year.

  13. imnotyourbuddyguy - May 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Did someone say Paul O’Neill?

  14. oregoncoastdailynews - May 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    When they retire #6 (Joe Torre) next year, and Derek Jeter #2 sometime soon, they will be the 1st MLB team to have retired numbers 1-10. Pretty remarkable, when you think about it…

  15. pete2112 - May 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Tino was an integral part of those championship teams and certainly deserves to be part of that group of players. He played great defense along with hitting for power and driving in runs throughout his time with the Yankees. The great thing about those teams in the 90’s and early 00’s is that no one player was a super star on their own but as a team they all came together and dominated. Of course I’m leaving Clemens and certain others out of this equation, but for the most part they just had a group of blue collar players that went out and played the game right. I doubt you’ll ever see a team put together like that again and have that type of dynasty. Yankee haters can talk all about buying those championships, but that 96 team was not full of over priced free agents. It was a great mix of talent brought up through the Yankees organization and key free agent signing such as Jimmy Key, Mariano Duncan, Girardi, O’Neil and of course Tino.

    • billyboots - May 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      So when does Chuck Knoblauch get his plaque? He played on three World Series championship teams.

  16. Liam - May 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    As a Yankee fan born in 1989, I’m willing to admit I have a hopelessly strong bias on this topic, but I am completely cool with just about any member of the dynasty Yankees going into Momentum Park. No need to stop at Tino. In 2016 let’s bring in Homer Bush, Luis Sojo, Chili Davis, Graeme Lloyd, and Clay Bellinger and give them plaques too.

  17. jerze2387 - May 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Paul o’neil doesn’t deserve a plaque any more than Tino does. If they get plaques, chuck knoblock should get one behind the first base dugout where most of his throws landed.

    Next year they’ll give Ricky ledee and David justice plaques because they were ok the team during the dynasty too smh

  18. pete2112 - May 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM


    There’s a big difference between players like Ricky Ledee and Tino. Lets not get crazy here. Either you just hate the Yankees or never saw that team play and don’t know the history. I don’t think David Justice deserves a plaque, but he was key late season pickup that carried them that year when others were slumping. I honestly can’t remember what season that was but I’m thinking it was 99 or 2000. He totally sparked that team just at the right time.

    • Liam - May 8, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      It was 2000.

      • pete2112 - May 8, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Thanks Liam.

  19. droogleeddie - May 8, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Its Monument Park, not the Hall of Fame. In that sense, he is like the Jack Morris of MP candidates… Well loved enough to get in, but just barely. As a Yankee fan, I am cool with it.

  20. dillongeeescapeplan - May 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Probably the most overrated Yankee of all time.

    • pete2112 - May 8, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      Tino? Really?

    • 18thstreet - May 8, 2014 at 7:46 PM


    • 18thstreet - May 8, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      Or Munson.

  21. adross47 - May 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    One of many reasons Paul O’Neill deserves a plaque

    • adross47 - May 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      • adross47 - May 8, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        Using Firefox and can’t embed evidently. Thumbs down for me.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 8, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        You don’t need to use html codes for youtube links, just copy/paste the full link in:

  22. johnnysoda - May 8, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    I think I’m just more baffled that Tino is going in before Bernie.

    • jonusb - May 8, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Tino isn’t “going in” anywhere. He’s getting a mere plaque, like Gossage and O’Neill. From what I understand, Bernie’s # will be retired next season. Retirement ceremonies are more special, and obviously have to be planned well in advance.

    • pete2112 - May 8, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      I would have to agree with you there. I think Bernie has sort of got the shaft from the Yankees since he left. I think it’s a little better now than it has been with regard to their relationship, but I do agree that Bernie probably deserves to have a plaque before Tino more so that he was a Yankee for life. I think that should count towards something. I’m a bit biased towards Bernie as he was my favorite player during that stretch but they were both super important.

  23. jkcalhoun - May 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    When Chad Curtis is the only one left without special honors, we’ll finally know what this was all about.

  24. scyankee64 - May 8, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    The plaque is only the number three honor. One is a monument and two is a retired number. I’m assuming if one gets a monument, he also gets his number retired.

    I think the Yankees choose players that best represent an era(usually a championship era) to award plaques. I think Tino and the rest of those guys are good choices. Bernie will get one too, if not a retired number too. He waited a fairly long time to officially retire too, if I remember correctly.

    I think Pettitte and Posada will likely get plaques. Jeter and Rivera will probably get monuments and retired numbers.

  25. mikhelb - May 8, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Even though Tino was part of the “dinasty years”, at the beginning the people did not like him, he was replacing Donnie, whom the year before went out with a bang having a great postseason but getting eliminated by… Tino and the Mariners (“The Martinez of the Destruction” were called Edgar and Tino, in honour to a pair of mexican sluggers who were called that way in the sixties and seventies in Mexico: “,The Camachos of the Destruction”, Ronnie and Moisés).

    It is accepted in Yankee lore that the trade that made possible the step from “a good team” to “an excellent team” was the one which involved Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis going to Seattle in exchange for Tino and Jeff Nelson (who made the braves his bitches, as Craig C. surely remembers).

    But it wasn’t until Tino hit that grandslam to win a game vs the orioles in extrainnings that Tino cemented his place as “A Yankee” (similar to Giambi, something Teixeira has not done, so far, even though he had a great moment in a game vs the Indians hitting a line drive which struck the top of the RF foul pole, if it had not been for the pole, the ball could have carried all the way to maybe abandon the indians stadium).

    Same thing will happen to anybody who replaces Jeter, it happened to Damon, succesor of Bernie, and was only lauded after that stolen base vs Phillies in 2009 WS (though in his first series vs Red Sox in fenway he had a great moment).

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