First came Junior. Now comes Edgar. Just as it so often happened in the Mariners’ lineup throughout the 1990s.
Club president Kevin Mather announced plans Tuesday to retire the No. 11 worn by Edgar Martinez in an 18-year playing career from 1987 through 2004. Martinez continues to wear it today in his role as the club’s hitting coach.
“This is an incredible honor for me and my family,” Martinez said. “It is a gift that we will share forever. … Hopefully, I can wear it for years to come. That’s the plan.”
The ceremony will occur prior to the Aug. 12 game against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Martinez’s No. 11 will be unveiled in a permanent display as part of a weekend celebration that recognizes his accomplishments.
“Edgar Martinez is the string that binds together our franchise history,” Mather said. “As we embark on our 40th anniversary season in 2017, Edgar has been in a Mariners major-league uniform for 20 of those seasons.”
The move comes one year after the Mariners retired the No. 24 worn by Ken Griffey Jr., just days after his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Griffey was the first player in franchise history to have his number
The No. 42 was retired for all teams by Major League Baseball in 1997 on the 50-year anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line.
“It will be special to see my number is next to Junior’s, one of the greatest players to play the game,” Martinez said. “Also next to the great Jackie Robinson. That is amazing. Something you would never expect.
“It will be a reminder of how lucky I am to have played this game.”
Club officials privately acknowledged in recent years their intention to make Griffey’s number the first to be retired by the club and wanting that honor to coincide with his election to the Hall of Fame.
Martinez ranks as a logical second choice to receive the honor, and the timing of the move represents an effort by the Mariners to boost his chance to join Griffey in the Cooperstown, New York, shrine.
That remains no sure thing.
Martinez received 58.6 percent of the vote in the 2018 balloting announced last week. While his support climbed significantly in the past two years, election requires 75 percent, and Martinez has only two more years of ballot
“I think it will help him,” Mather acknowledged. “I had that debate with our board. Our standard for number retirement is so high — and they all said we want it that way. I said it would be helpful if the voters could see we retired his number.”
Martinez, 54, is the franchise’s all-time leader in games (2,055), runs (1,219), extra-base hits (838), doubles (514), RBIs (1,261) and on-base percentage (.418).
He ranks second in at-bats (7,213), hits (2,247), home runs (309) and batting average (.312).
Martinez wore No. 11 throughout his career, and he is the only Mariner to wear it since he made his playing debut on Sept. 12, 1987.
Seven players wore No. 11 before Martinez: Tommy Smith (1977), Charlie Beamon (1978), Mario Mendoza (1979-80), Jim Maier (1981), Bud Bulling (1982-83), Darnell Coles (1983) and Bob Kearney (1984-87).
“At the beginning,” Martinez said, “it didn’t have any special meaning. It was one that was available. Now, it has a special meaning.”
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners