Skipping ahead through the 1980s brings us to the late 1990s and one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history, Pedro Martinez.
Acquired in a trade with the Montreal Expos after the 1997 season, Pedro instantly became a legend in Boston as one of the most dominating pitchers of his era. His run of greatness in Boston between 1998 and 2004 is now the stuff of legend and helped Martinez earn his spot in Cooperstown.
Beyond his accomplishments on the mound, what made Pedro so important to the Red Sox was that he finally gave them a dominant ace in the wake of Roger Clemens‘ departure after the 1996 season. With Pedro anchoring the rotation, the Red Sox made postseason appearances in 1998, 1999, 2003, and 2004.
By his final year in Boston he was struggling with shoulder issues and wasn’t as dominating and overpowering as before, but he used his smarts and his pinpoint control to help the Red Sox finally vanquish the Yankees and the Curse of the Bambino (if you believe in such things) while graciously stepping aside to let newcomer Curt Schilling assume the role of ace.
Beyond all of that, anyone who remembers watching Pedro pitch for the Red Sox will tell you that each and every one of his starts was must-see. There was an absolutely electric ripple of energy that permeated Fenway Park when he was on the mound (and it even came across on TV) as everyone watching waited to see what incredible thing he’d do next.
On a personal level, my wife and I went to numerous games at Fenway Park between 2000 and 2004 when Pedro was pitching and there was nothing at all like it. For that alone, in addition to his carrying those late 1990s/early 2000s Red Sox teams that were good but not quite good enough, Pedro’s importance to the Red Sox is secure.