Yankees History: Six Great Moments From 1990 To The Present
Sometimes, a team makes a move via a trade or free agent signing, and it just feels right” as the perfect fit for the team that is assembled. This appeared to be the case when the Yankees traded starting pitcher Starling Hitchcock and reliever Russ Davis to the Seattle Mariners in return for Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir, and a sleeper in the deal, Jeff Nelson, who would become the setup man for Mariano Rivera, on December 7, 1995.
His 1998 numbers followed in the same vein (28 HR, 123 RBI), but it was in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series that Tino Martinez etched his name forever into Yankees history.
Before the trade, Tino Martinez had spent five rather pedestrian years with the Mariners, reaching new heights only in 1995 when he put together a season that caught the attention of the Yankees, with 31 home runs and 111 RBI.
Two years later, perhaps feeling more comfortable in his new surrounding in the Bronx, Martinez put together a monster year for the Yankees slugging 44 home runs, while driving in 141 runs, and finishing 2nd in the MVP voting that season.
His 1998 numbers followed in the same vein (28 HR, 123 RBI), but it was in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series that Tino Martinez etched his name forever into Yankees history. Bringing the team back from a deficit to a sudden lead with an epic grand slam home run (Video Below), Martinez created the force that propelled the Yankees to the eventual sweep of the Padres.
That moment is still etched in the mind of Tino Martinez as he later told the New York Daily News:
"“It’s something you dream of as a kid,” Martinez said. “To hit the grand slam and put us ahead, it was huge. I can still hear the fan reaction and smell the beer flying all over the Stadium.”"
His manager and teammates acknowledged the significance of that one swing of a bat, coming on a full-count pitch from Mark Langston, telling the New York Times
"It’s a great deal of relief,” Manager Joe Torre said. ”I think it relieved everyone’s pressure in the dugout.” Even Chuck Knoblauch, who on a night filled with redemption slugged a three-run homer in that same seventh inning, said, ”I was probably more excited when he hit his home run than when I hit mine.” Before the game, Paul O’Neill had said: ”I would guess that Tino would have a great series. Baseball has a way of evening things out. You have a bad series, you come back and have a great series.”"
From the beginning, Tino Martinez just seemed destined for this moment in a Yankees uniform.
Martinez has remained close to the Yankees since his retirement, but a niche is yet to be found that satisfies both sides. He served at the Team USA hitting instructor in the 2016 World Baseball Classic Tournament, and also as the hitting coach of the Florida Marlins in 2013, but he resigned from that post in July of the same year.