Mariners to retire Edgar's No. 11 in August

Mariners to retire Edgar's No. 11 in August

SEATTLE -- Edgar Martinez already has a street outside Safeco Field in his name and a restaurant down the left-field line called "Edgar's Cantina." But now the former Mariners great will receive the biggest honor the franchise can bestow upon him, as the club announced on Tuesday it will retire his No. 11 jersey and hang it next to Ken Griffey Jr.'s No. 24 on the center-field facade.

A year after Griffey became the first Mariner to have his number retired, shortly after being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Martinez was selected to join Griffey in an Aug. 12 ceremony that will be held at Safeco Field prior to that night's 6:10 p.m. PT game against the Angels.

"This is an incredible honor for me and my family," Martinez said at a Safeco Field news conference where his framed jersey was unveiled. "It's a gift we'll cherish forever."

Mariners president Kevin Mather said the decision to retire Martinez's number was quickly pushed through by the club's board of governors after his jump in last week's voting made it clear he's a serious threat to become the team's next member of the Hall of Fame.

Martinez has HOF credentials

"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, all proudly wearing No. 11, and has been a part of our organization for 36 years. He has worn a Seattle uniform in parts of four decades [the '80s, '90s, 2000s and the 2010s], and today's announcement will assure that his number will be proudly displayed in Safeco Field forever."

Martinez, who is scheduled to begin his second full season as hitting coach on manager Scott Servais' staff when the club opens Spring Training in three weeks, was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame on June 2, 2007.

Martinez, 54, played his entire 18-year Major League career with the Mariners and retired in 2004 with a career .312/.418/.515 line, 309 home runs and 1,261 RBIs. He received votes on 58.6 percent of the Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballots revealed last week and has two years remaining to reach the necessary 75 percent to be inducted.

The Mariners' policy on retiring numbers is that it will be done only for former Mariners who have been either elected to the Hall of Fame and spent at least five years in a Mariners uniform or come close to Hall of Fame election and spent their entire career or a substantial portion of their career with the Mariners. Candidates must be at least five years removed from their playing careers -- and thus eligible for at least one Hall of Fame vote -- before being considered.

In addition to Griffey and now Martinez, Jackie Robinson's No. 42 has been retired by Seattle, along with all other Major League teams.

"That will be special to see," Martinez said. "My number will be next to Junior's, one of the greatest players to play the game. His Hall of Fame voting showed that. Also next to the great Jackie Robinson. That's amazing. It's something I would never expect, looking back at my career. It will be a reminder of how lucky I am to have been able to play this game."

Martinez said he initially was given a number in the 80s when he signed with the Mariners as a teenager out of Puerto Rico, but eventually picked 11 because "I guess it was the best-looking one available."

Now he'll continue to wear that number as long as he's coaching with Seattle, but no one else in the history of the franchise will ever don those digits.

"Hopefully I can wear it for years to come," he said. "I guess that's the plan. Keep wearing the uniform."

Former teammate Jay Buhner said it's the perfect tribute to a player he called "a hitting machine" and one of the best right-handed hitters of his time. Buhner said the fact Martinez has gone back to work the past year and a half as a hitting coach speaks volumes of what he's all about.

"That's why they're hanging his number next to Junior's and Jackie's and why he's going to be in the Hall of Fame. Because he's all about work," Buhner said. "In order to get something, you have to put in the blood, sweat and tears. He continues to do that and always will. That's just his personality.

"He bleeds Mariners blue and breathes baseball. He's happy. That's the main thing to see."

During his playing career, Martinez made seven All-Star appearances and won two batting titles and five Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards. Upon his retirement, Major League Baseball renamed the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award the Edgar Martinez Award.

Martinez also won five Silver Slugger Awards and is the franchise's all-time leader in doubles, runs, RBIs, walks, extra-base hits and games played.

Off the field, Martinez was honored by MLB with the Roberto Clemente Award, and he was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 2007.

"In addition to his Hall of Fame-caliber career on the field, Edgar -- and his wife, Holli, and family -- have made Seattle their home and have been model citizens, giving generously of their time and treasure to help make the Northwest a better place," Mather said. "He is most deserving of the ultimate honor the Mariners franchise can bestow."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.