About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Mighty Carlos Has Struck Out
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

There were so many other things I wanted to talk about today but after receiving an email from a friend this morning I realized all of those things would have to wait. On Tuesday former baseball player Carlos Martinez passed away at the age of forty. Many of you may ask, who is Carlos Martinez? Well, pull up a chair, I’ve got a little story to tell.

Way back when I was a child and Carlos was a journeyman ballplayer I saw him during a rehab stint when he was with the Canton-Akron Indians, the Tribe’s AA franchise. The team was in New Britain to take on the then New Britain Red Sox (that’s old school homey). I was at the game with my dad and a close friend of the family and we were sitting only a few rows from the field, which in New Britain, at both old Beehive and the new stadium, means you’re literally only a few feet from the infield grass. One of the great things about minor league baseball is that the players and coaches can actually hear your shouts and jeers.

On this day we noticed Carlos, a man among, well, other men, but those other men were shorter men, so we’ll say he was a man among boys. In his first at bat Carlos struck out and rather than hand his gloves to the bat boy, who was standing in front of him, he dropped them on the ground at his feet. We immediately knew the player we would be focusing on for the rest of the game. During the next three hours Carlos would do so many insane things that we would continue to remember him forever.

When Carlos got on base it was an adventure. His slide into second became infamous as his first attempt looked much more like a bellyflop and he came up spitting out dirt. We all got a good laugh and figured, man this player is providing us with some funny moments. Of course, nothing prepared us for the lunacy that would ensue.

Carlos was on first later in the game and the player at the plate had a count that included three balls. Taking off on the pitch Carlos had no idea it was ball four and he had a free pass to second. Taking advantage of this was the crowd. We all yelled “Slide Carlos, Slide” hoping to see the bellyflop for a second time. Not only did we see it, as he attempted to “steal” second on a ball four, but he missed the bag, coming up short on his flop. The crowd got a laugh, but a few minutes later we got something a little more personal.

The Indians continued to be effective against the Sox pitchers and Carlos eventually made his way to third. Sitting only two rows back from the base and I knew he could hear me. One jeer later he looked straight at me, my dad and our friend, gave us a dirty look, then licked the top of his wrist. This will forever be known as The Curse of Carlos! I don’t know what he mumbled, or what he wanted to say to us, but I’m sure it wasn’t complimentary. He eventually cost his team the game with a fielding error, albeit that wasn’t really his fault, they had him playing out of position because he was just down in the minors rehabbing, but he will forever be our hero of heroes.

Because we’re warped we started our own Carlos Martinez Fan Club. We researched his history. Did you know Carlos was the man who hit the ball that bounced off Jose Canesco’s head for a home run? I’ve even gone as far as purchasing some Carlos-related memorabilia including two game used bats, one signed, and quite a few autographed cards. I still hope one day to be able to wear a Carlos jersey. He played for quite a few teams in his day, but he’ll always be a Canton-Akron Indian to me.

Slide into the light. Slide Carlos, Slide!
posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:54 AM  
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