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‘Too valuable not to be on the field’: George Brett reacts to Edgar Martinez’s induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 22, 2019, 10 p.m.

Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame player George Brett spend his whole career with the Royals, just as Edgar Martinez did with the Seattle Mariners. (John Sleezer / AP)
Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame player George Brett spend his whole career with the Royals, just as Edgar Martinez did with the Seattle Mariners. (John Sleezer / AP)

In his final year on the ballot, Seattle Mariners legend Edgar Martinez was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Martinez was named on 363 of 425 ballots (85.4 percent) after narrowly missing induction last year when he appeared on 70.4 percent (75 percent is needed).

Martinez spent his entire 18 seasons with the M’s, a rarity in the free-agent era of the game. He shares that distinction with another Hall of Famer with area ties – George Brett.

Brett, 65, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 following a 21-year career with the Kansas City Royals. He is co-owner of the Spokane Indians and Chiefs, along with his brother Bobby, who manages the day-to-day operations of the clubs.

“In order for that to happen, the organization has to trust you,” Brett said about playing for the Royals his entire career. “It has to be like a good marriage.

“Obviously, the Mariners felt the same thing about Edgar.”

Brett said it’s a special feeling playing for one organization.

“At the end of it, when you look at the back of my baseball card it looks like Carl Yastrzemski, it looks like Brooks Robinson, it looks like Mickey Mantle’s. So does Edgar’s.

“That means somebody put a lot of trust in you and you put a lot of trust in the organization.”

Like Martinez, Brett came up as a third baseman and played 1,692 of his 2,707 games there. But he played 505 games as designated hitter – primarily later in his career – while playing 461 at first.

Martinez was shifted to DH earlier in his career due to bad knees and injury risk.

“(Martinez) was too valuable to not be on the field,” Brett said.

“You have to look at your commodity and say, ‘Is he going to be more valuable to us going out there and being a little accident prone and missing three weeks here, a month there?’ He’s too valuable to risk being hurt and not hitting.”

Another player with local ties had the opportunity to face Martinez in person.

Jeremy Affeldt played high school baseball at Northwest Christian in Colbert. He was drafted in the third round of the 1997 MLB Draft by Kansas City and played 14 seasons in Major League Baseball with four teams from 2002-15.

Affeldt gave up two hits in 10 career at bats to Martinez, including a double, while striking out the M’s legend twice.

However, in a spring training game in 2004, Affeldt – pitching with the Kansas City Royals – gave up a long home run to the veteran hitter.

“Edgar did more than hit it. He dented it,” Affeldt told the Chicago Tribune at the time. “I left it up and it deserved to be hit. A hitter of his caliber is going to hit it a long way.”

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