"This piece is a great treasure," said Cooperstown's representative Brad Horn, who was on hand to accept the jersey. "When you look at the list of all-time 3,000 strikeout members, Pedro is in incredible elite company, with some of the greatest names of pitchers in the history of the game."
Martinez joined that pantheon on Labor Day in Cincinnati, striking out Reds pitcher Aaron Harang in his first start since returning from the rotator cuff surgery that had sidelined him for roughly a year.
In doing so, Martinez notched the rarest of milestones. Fewer players have recorded 3,000 strikeouts than 3,000 hits, 500 home runs or 300 wins, and the group won't be growing anytime soon. John Smoltz is likely to crash the club early next season, but not a single player younger than 38 has even amassed 2,000 strikeouts for his career.
Martinez did it when he was 30.
"It's one of baseball's most elite and most heralded milestones," Horn said, "because of its exclusivity."
And Martinez is no stranger to milestones, just as he's no stranger to the Hall of Fame. In 1995, after throwing nine perfect innings, in what became a 10-inning Expos victory, Martinez donated a ball to Cooperstown. Two years later, after he struck out an unheard of 313 batters in a season, Martinez gave the Hall his cap. In 1999, he donated his jersey after winning All-Star Game MVP honors, and in 2004, he gave the Hall his Red Sox cap from Game 3 of the World Series.
And now this.
His wife, Carolina, was on hand at Shea to accompany him during the ceremonies, as were various friends and family members from the Dominican Republic. They all watched as the Mets honored him with a video tribute, which included congratulations from Nolan Ryan -- the career strikeout leader with 5,714 -- and highlights from throughout his three-year Mets tenure.
Martinez then mustered up a short speech, thanking the fans over and over again before finally saluting them in his trademark style.
Most of the fans would just as quickly thank him. After all, in two starts back with the team, he's already given the Mets two wins. So while 3,000 strikeouts is nice, the Mets -- and Martinez -- have even greater aspirations.
"I wasn't thinking about 3,000," Martinez said after hitting the mark. "It feels great. But it doesn't compare with being back with the team."