It started with a patch on Miguel Castro’s sleeve.
They had been discussing Castro’s Players’ Weekend jersey, on which the pitcher — like every other player in Major League Baseball — had chosen a name to fit on the back and any other detailing he wanted. Castro selected “Villa Hermosa” to represent his neighborhood in his hometown of La Romana in the Dominican Republic, he explained through translator Ramón Alarcón.
The patch in question depicted five batters, from child-sized to grown man. The text read “Thank you Pedro Martínez.”
“I chose Pedro Martínez because Pedro has always been my favorite player of all time,” Castro said through Alarcón.
In studio, Martínez himself was then on air. It was an honor to be on Castro’s sleeve, he said, calling the young pitcher the “pride of Villa Hermosa.” Martínez’s hometown of Manoguayabo, Santo Domingo, is only a few provinces west of Castro’s in the Dominican.
Then, it was Martínez who was asking the questions.
“Why? Why me?” he said.
After Castro, 23, recovered from his joy of suddenly getting to speak with his hero, he replied in Spanish. Martinez was his childhood idol, of course. Castro wanted to be like him. Martínez understood, but he waited for Alarcón to translate, for the English-speaking viewers.
Martínez was an eight-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner, a World Series champion and a Hall of Famer. A lot to love for Castro.
“Ever since I was a little kid, you’ve been my hero. You’ve been my idol. I’ve always liked the way you pitched,” Castro said.
Before Tuesday’s game, Castro talked about meeting his idol.
“It was incredible to meet him,” Castro said. “It was huge. I still can’t believe it. I admire everything about him, the way he goes about the game, how he prepares, how he attacks the hitter, how he’s always in command and aggressive with his pitches. I love everything about him.”
You can watch the full video below.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article from Toronto.