It was an opportunity too good for Gian Martellini to pass up.
Martellini, a Johnston native and former All-State catcher at Hendricken, took a call from his current Boston College coach a couple of weeks back and got an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“My coach called me and asked if I’d want to catch for Pedro Martinez in the Oldtime Game,” Martellini recalled. “I said ‘Oh, absolutely. I’ll definitely do that.’”
So, Martellini trekked over to St. Peter’s Field in North Cambridge, Massachusetts, last Thursday for the annual game that featured several Division I, Division II and Division III collegiate baseball players from the Northeast and special guest Martinez.
Martellini caught Martinez’s bullpen prior to the game, and the Red Sox legend and Baseball Hall of Famer was keen on throwing a large arsenal of pitches.
“I caught Pedro’s bullpen and he said he was going to throw five different pitches,” Martellini said. “I was just like all right. Who am I to tell Pedro what to throw? But, when we got out there, we just kept it pretty simple with a fastball, curveball and changeup.”
The Oldtime Game was held for two great causes, benefiting ALS research and the John Martin Fund. Because of the fundraising aspect, Martinez wasn’t bringing his usual heat on the mound, but it was evident to Martellini that Pedro still had it.
“He was just grooving it in there, but he still had it,” Martellini said. “His off-speed stuff was moving like crazy. He broke a bat and struck a kid out.”
Martellini was quick to note that he is a Yankees fan, but nonetheless, catching for one of the all-time greats is something that he’ll never forget. He was also happy that he got to participate in the game to help raise funds for ALS research, as that cause is something that is treasured by the Boston College baseball program with former player Pete Frates battling the terrible disease.
“It was super cool,” Martellini said. “Pedro was a friendly, down-to-earth guy. It was a lot of fun and a great fundraiser.”
Catching Pedro capped a memorable summer to say the least for Martellini, who stood out behind the plate for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League in recent months, finishing the summer with four home runs and 20 RBIs.
“The hospitality in Cotuit was great, my host family was amazing and I learned a lot that I can bring back to BC for next season,” Martellini said. “The competition was unbelievable. It was the best of the best.”