The Seattle Mariners drafted Martinez in 1988. Martinez began his career playing under Lou Piniella, who had also grown up in the West Tampa neighborhood and knew his uncle and mother. Martinez had several mediocre seasons, but broke out in 1995 when he drove in 111 runs, hit 31 home runs and batted .293. The Mariners clinched the AL West and went on to play in the first season of divisional post season play against the New York Yankees.
Martinez helped lead the New York Yankees to World Series championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. He also won the Home Run Derby in 1997. Martinez hit two memorable home runs as a Yankee in the World Series. The first came off Mark Langston in Game 1 of the 1998 Series. The Yankees had tied the game earlier in the inning with a Chuck Knoblauch 3-run home run. The following three batters got on base, and Martinez came to the plate. After taking a very close ball 3, he hit a grand slam into the upper deck on a 3-2 count, giving the Yankees a four-run lead. The second came on October 31, 2001. With two outs in the 9th inning and the Yankees trailing by two runs, Martinez came to the plate with a runner on. He hit a home run to right center off Arizona Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim. The feat was repeated the following night by Scott Brosius. However, the Yankees would lose Games 6 and 7 and thus, the series.
Martinez in the on-deck circle at Edison Field on August 25, 2001
In the 2001 World Series, Martinez's Yankees faced off against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The series went to Game 7, which Arizona won when Luis Gonzalez, Martinez's best friend, hit a game-winning single off Yankee closer Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th inning. Gonzalez later recalled that when he went back home to check his answering machine, the first message of congratulations was from Martinez.
After the 2001 season when the Yankees elected to sign Jason Giambi, Martinez went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals for two seasons, once again replacing an aging legendary first baseman, Mark McGwire. His production during these three years declined, and he went through several prolonged slumps.
One of his most memorable moments during this tenure with the Cardinals came when he returned to Yankee Stadium during a series in 2003. An emotional Martinez was driven to tears when he went to bat as he was given a standing ovation by the Yankee fans who appreciated the integral part he played during the team's last dynastic run. In the second game of the three game series, Martinez hit 2 home runs off former teammate Andy Pettitte to a loud thunderous ovation both times. The Yankee fans cheered him for a curtain call, a rare occurrence in honor of a visiting team's player.
The Cardinals eventually traded Martinez to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they decided to have Albert Pujols switch from left field to first base.
Martinez eventually returned to his hometown with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004 where he was reunited with Lou Pinella. Martinez hit 23 home runs while serving as a mentor for the team's many young players. His family lived just minutes from the Tropicana Field and he was popular with the Devil Rays fans.
Second stint with the New York Yankees (2005)
Martinez returned for a second tour of duty with the Yankees for the 2005 season. From May 7, 2005 to May 11, 2005, Martinez hit 5 home runs in 5 straight games, which is one more than his previous record set from June 27, 2001 to July 1, 2001. While held homerless on May 12, 2005, Tino hit two homers on May 15 to give him 8 HR in 8 games. On November 8, 2005, the Yankees declined their US$3 million option on Martinez, making him a free agent. On Wednesday February 15, 2006 he officially decided to end his playing career. Martinez confirmed the decision in the St. Petersburg Times, telling the paper that he will begin his broadcasting career at ESPN. Martinez said that the offer from ESPN made his decision to retire a lot easier, as he would work on Baseball Tonight, do some radio work, and broadcast a few games.
In his 16-year Major League career, Martinez hit .271 with 339 home runs and 1,271 RBIs. During his seven years with the Yankees, he hit 192 home runs and drove in 739 runs.
In 2008, Martinez agreed to be a special instructor for the Yankees to help their first basemen with defensive skills. After Spring Training, he was named Special Assistant to the General Manager.
Starting in Spring Training 2010, Martinez became a color commentator for the YES Network, replacing the departed David Cone. He made his regular season debut on April 9, 2010, when he called a game between the Yankees and the Rays that was coincidentally played back in his home area of Tampa Bay.
Prior to the 2004 Summer Olympics Games, the host nation Greece, trying to build up their chances of winning a medal, decided to put together a team of North American baseball players of Greek heritage. Martinez, having some Greek ancestry, was approached by the Greek Olympic team manager Rob Derksen and asked to play for the host nation. Martinez, along with fellow MLB players Eric Karros and Aaron Miles, declined the offer because the games were in the midst of the Major League Baseball season.
Martinez was named the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins for the 2013 season, replacing Eduardo Pérez. On July 28, 2013, Martinez resigned from the position amid allegations of physically abusing Derek Dietrich several months before the resignation. Martinez's behavior in the clubhouse was reported to include verbal attacks towards the Marlins' Justin Ruggiano and Chris Valaika along with minor league player Matt Downs.
Despite his credibility as a hitter, Martinez presided over the worst offense in Marlins history and as a result, the 2013 Miami Marlins was referred to among one of the historically worst offensive efforts in Major League history.
Tino has been married to the former Marie Prado since 1991. They have three children: Olivia, Tino, Jr. (TJ), and Victoria. The family currently resides in West Tampa.
The premiere of Yankeeography: Tino Martinez appeared in early May 2006, on the YES Network. On April 2, 2007, Martinez received the 2007 Pride of The Yankees Award at the New York Yankees Homecoming Banquet.
In 2008, during the final season of the old Yankee Stadium, Martinez participated in his first Old Timer's Day. In a Yankees vs Orioles preseason game on March 13, 2010, it was mentioned by Yankees play-by-play announcer, Michael Kay, that Tino is a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is also a season ticket holder.
Martinez also participates annually in a golf tournament in Tampa.
Martinez, who left the University of Tampa after his junior year to pursue professional baseball, received a bachelor's degree at UT in liberal studies on May 7, 2011.
Martinez participated in the Yankees' 2011 Old Timer's Day on June 26, 2011, where he was given one of the loudest ovations. would also take part in the 2012 Old Timer's Day game. The Yankees honored Martinez with a plaque in Monument Park on June 21, 2014.