A ceremony years in the making finally came to fruition on Friday evening at Marvel Park as the Parsons Vikings baseball team paid respects to former Viking pitcher Travis Martinez.
Martinez, who graduated from Parsons in 1995, passed away from leukemia on Oct. 29, 2013. He is the all-time winningest pitcher in school history. Over his career, Martinez notched 17 wins with 145 strikeouts over 121.2 innings of work.
“I coached Travis when he was in Legion baseball when he was 17 and 18,” Parsons head coach Gerald Beardmore said. “I’d known him for a long time. A few years ago, a few of us guys talked about doing this. The family could make it work this year. It’s so important to honor a guy that had done so much for Parsons High School. He always had a smile on his face and was loved by so many. He was gone way too early in his life.”
Travis was honored during a ceremony in between Games 1 and 2 of a doubleheader against Pittsburg. The Viking players presented the Martinez family a shadow box with his jersey signed by former teammates.
“I thought this was amazing,” Tara Martinez, Travis’ wife, said. “It’s super overwhelming. All of the support and love that everybody had for him was too much for words.”
Parsons wore the old white pinstripe uniforms that Travis once wore when he played for the Vikings. No. 21 was also painted twice onto the pitcher’s mound and once behind the plate on the field.
Noah Ryan, a player for the Vikings, constructed the shadow box as part of a woodworking project at the school.
“It was an honor to get the opportunity to build the shadow box to honor Travis,” Ryan said. “He was a great player for the Parsons baseball team. To be able to honor him meant a lot to me and all of the team here.”
“My very first instinct was that we needed a shadow box,” Beardmore said. “I know Noah Ryan is great at woodworking. He did a fabulous job. It looks so nice and has the jersey he actually wore in high school. I’m so proud of him.”
Beardmore said that nobody will wear No. 21 as long as he’s the coach of the Vikings.
“I coached him and know what he did,” Beardmore said. “I wanted to do it while I was still here. It was important for this night to happen. It was an emotional night.”
Tara added that her kids, her son, Khalell, and daughter, Kaedyn, will likely jostle for who gets ownership of the shadow box.
“Both my kids are going to fight on who gets it and whose wall it goes on,” Tara said. “My daughter already has asked.”
Beardmore recalled the ferocity Martinez played with in his youth.
“He was a two-sport guy that commanded people to respect him,” Beardmore said. “Other teams respected him when he was on the mound. When I’d go out there to get him out, he always had the right words to change my mind. He was just solid with a bulldog mentality.”
With one of the largest crowds in recent memory on hand at Marvel Park, Thursday’s ceremony ultimately was a representation of the mark Martinez left on the community.
“He just had a huge impact,” Tara said. “Everybody loved him.”