stomach dropped when I saw, and heard, the ball hit Joey Martinez.
Martinez is one of the great guys. I talked to his mother, Toni, last
week, and her son had failed to tell her about the award he had just
gotten from his teammates, coaches and staff at spring training.
“He’s a man of few words,” his mother said. Before today’s
game, I spent a few minutes with Martinez to get more background
two, I know more than a little about head injuries.
16 at the time, sustained a traumatic brain injury in August 2006
when he fell off his skateboard without a helmet. He was in the
hospital for three months. He missed nearly a year of school. He’s
pretty much OK now, though he has to take medication for seizures for
the rest of his life, but it’s been a long road. (I’ve written a
book about the experience. It will be published in September.)
sure Martinez will be OK. He was conscious. According to doctors at
the ballpark, he showed no signs of a brain injury. He was heading to
St. Francis Hospital for a CT scan and will be kept overnight. My
thoughts go out to his parents and three siblings in New Jersey.
season, Martinez has been sharing an apartment near the ballpark with
Alex Hinshaw. Hinshaw and Martinez were drafted by the Giants in
2005. “He’s the easiest guy to get along with,” Hinshaw
piped up in the clubhouse today when he saw me interviewing Martinez.
little bit more background on Martinez:
Martinez earned his degree from Boston College in finance and worked
during one minor-league off-season at an insurance company in Boston.
two off-seasons, including this past winter, he worked as a
substitute teacher at Columbia High in Maplewood, N.J., near the
South Orange town where Martinez grew up. “It was mostly
babysitting,” Martinez said earlier today. “I only had to send
one kid to the principal’s office.”
Toni is a teacher, as is Martinez’s older sister, Angela.
Martinez’s father, Javier, was born in Cuba and moved to the U.S.
when he was six years old. Javier’s mother has a doctorate in math
but earned her living in the United States as a high school Spanish
teacher. Javier’s father was an engineer. Javier Martinez graduated
from college as an optometrist but now, like most of his family, he
has also become a teacher.
Joey’s 23-year-old brother, Javier, was recently released by the
Mariners organization and now is concentrating on putting his Fordham
University business degree to good use. Andy, the youngest of the
Martinez brothers, is a sophomore at Seton Hall Prep, the Catholic
boys’ school which all three brothers attended. Andy plays
graduated from Seton Hall Prep with a 4.65 GPA. He was president of
the Student Council and a member of the National Honor Society. Two
of his closest friends were the valedictorian and salutorian. “We
were geeks,” Martinez said. Toni told me by phone from South
Orange: “I remember once driving Joey and his friends to the movies
when he was a sophomore in high school, and they were talking about
their summer reading.”
* But, she said, her son has been crazy about sports
since he was a baby. “Everything in his hand became a ball,”
she said. “He’d be playing with blocks and he’d be tossing them
up in the air and catching them.”
*In high school, Martinez played four years of football,
three of baseball and two of basketball. He still holds three school
records in football and five in baseball.