Martinez in 2009
|Catcher / Manager|
|Born: November 7, 1948|
|June 18, 1969, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 1986, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Runs batted in||321|
John Albert "Buck" Martinez (born November 7, 1948) is an American former professional baseball catcher and manager, and is currently the television play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. He played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Kansas City Royals, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Toronto Blue Jays. Since the end of his playing career, he has been a broadcaster, working on the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles radio and television broadcasts, and nationally for TBS and MLB Network. Martinez managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001 to May 2002 and Team USA at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
Martinez attended Elk Grove High School, Sacramento City College, Sacramento State University, and Southwest Missouri State University. He was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent before being taken by the Houston Astros in the 1968 rule 5 draft. The Astros later traded him to the Kansas City Royals. Martinez made his major league debut in 1969, playing 72 games with the Royals. He is mentioned in Jim Bouton's 1970 bestseller Ball Four as John Martinez, a player Bouton and his Seattle teammates know little about. During a meeting, as Bouton's team is devising strategies to effectively pitch to their opponents, manager Joe Schultz lacks any concrete suggestions about the rookie Martinez, and famously advises that they just "zitz" him.
Over the next few years, however, Martinez developed the reputation of being an offensive liability. He never appeared in more than 95 games during his time with Kansas City, through 1977. Martinez was traded twice over the next few years, including to the Milwaukee Brewers in late 1977. In the midst of an 18-8 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday, August 29, 1979, Martinez entered the game as the Brewers' sixth pitcher of the day. As a pitcher, Martinez batted in the 9th inning, stroking an RBI single. For Martinez, who played in over 1,000 ML games, this game was his lone appearance in the majors as a pitcher.
Martinez was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays May 10, 1981 after being designated for assignment. He is most remembered for his time in Toronto, where he twice hit 10 home runs (in 1982 and 1983) and was regarded as a solid defensive catcher.
Martinez's career took a bad turn when he broke his leg and severely dislocated his ankle in a home plate collision with the Seattle Mariners' Phil Bradley at the Kingdome on July 9, 1985. After the collision, he still attempted to throw out the advancing runner Gorman Thomas. When the throw went into left field, Thomas tried to come home. However, he was tagged out by a sprawled-out Martinez, who despite having a broken leg had managed to catch the return throw from George Bell on the ground, thus completing a 9-2-7-2 double play.
Martinez attempted a comeback with Toronto in 1986 but retired after hitting only .181 in 81 games.
After retiring as an active player following the 1986 season, Martinez began his broadcasting career as a color analyst for Toronto Blue Jays games in 1987. Eventually, this led to a job with TSN in which he was first paired with Fergie Olver. When Olver was replaced by Jim Hughson in 1990, Martinez remained the color analyst. The pair of Hughson and Martinez also worked together on a number of ESPN telecasts, as well as on EA Sports Triple Play Baseball video game series. Hughson left TSN in 1994, and was replaced by Dan Shulman. Like Hughson, Shulman also frequently moonlighted on ESPN and eventually joined ESPN full-time, whereas Martinez became manager of the Blue Jays from 2001 to 2002. During his stint on ESPN, Martinez won a Sports Emmy Award for his work as part of the crew for the broadcast of Cal Ripken's 2,131 game.
For the 2003 to 2009 seasons, he was the color commentator for Baltimore Orioles television broadcasts, alongside play-by-play announcers Jim Hunter and Gary Thorne on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. From 2005 to 2009, Martinez was a co-host of XM Radio's Baseball This Morning show on the MLB Home Plate channel and contributed color commentary for Sunday afternoon games and on TBS, as well as for the network's postseason coverage. In late April 2009, Buck substituted for the ill Jerry Remy as commentator for the three game Red Sox–Rays series for NESN.
Martinez returned to the Blue Jays' broadcast booth in 2010, this time as a play-by-play announcer for their sister company and exclusive broadcaster, Rogers Sportsnet, replacing Jamie Campbell, who now hosts the pre-game telecast. His main broadcast partner on Sportsnet is former Blue Jay Pat Tabler. With Shulman's part-time return to the Blue Jays broadcast team in 2016, Martinez now splits duties between play-by-play and color analyst. On September 25, 2014, Rogers announced Martinez had signed a five-year extension to remain the play-by-play announcer for Toronto.
In 2000, Martinez was hired as Toronto's manager after Jim Fregosi's contract was not renewed. Martinez's energetic attitude was seen as the right fit for the Jays' young roster and through the first two months of the season Toronto outperformed expectations. The success, however, was short-lived as the team struggled through the remainder of the season and finished a mediocre 80-82. He was fired 53 games into the 2002 season after posting a 20-33 record. At the time he was fired, the Blue Jays were on a three-game winning streak, having just swept the Detroit Tigers. He was replaced as manager by Carlos Tosca.
Martinez was selected as the field manager for Team USA in the 2006 inaugural World Baseball Classic. He led the superstar-laden American squad to the second round. While Martinez wore number 13 as both a player and a manager in the Major Leagues, he wore number 31 while managing in the WBC because Alex Rodriguez had already been assigned number 13.
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Martinez has authored three books. From Worst To First: The Toronto Blue Jays in 1985 was published in 1985, The Last Out: The Toronto Blue Jays In 1986 was published in 1986 and in 2016, Martinez released his third book entitled Change Up: How to Make the Great Game of Baseball Even Better, outlining his views on modern-day baseball and what can be done to improve it.