Pedro J. Martinez (born 1971)

Full-length portrait of a baseball player
Pedro J. Martinez,  born 1971  |  Born Manoguayabo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican RepubliC  |  Susan Miller-Havens (born 1944)  |  Oil and beeswax on birch panel, 2000  |  National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Gloria Trowbridge Gammons and Peter Warren Gammons, in honor of Pedro Martinez, whose baseball career has been paralleled by his lifelong work promoting educational opportunities for less fortunate children in America and his own Dominican Republic  |  NPG.2010.85

Pedro J. Martinez was told that he was too small to be a major-league power pitcher, yet from his first appearance he consistently overpowered the best hitters in the world. He won three Cy Young Awards in a span of four seasons and to date has a record of 219 wins and only 100 losses. In 2000, the very heart of the home-run/steroid era, Martinez had an earned-run average of 1.74-more than three runs a game less than the American League average; he allowed only seventeen home runs in 217 innings pitched. Baseball authority Peter Gammons believes that "Pedro's seven-year period, 1997–2003, was the most dominant stretch of any pitcher in baseball history." Martinez is also widely applauded for his commitment to advancing opportunities for less fortunate children in his native Dominican Republic and in the United States, where he is a naturalized citizen.

Artist Susan Miller-Havens titled this portrait El Orgullo y Determinación (Pride and Determination) as a statement of Martinez's accomplishment in overcoming obstacles and becoming one of the most dominant pitchers of baseball's modern era. Miller-Havens shows Martinez prepping at the pitcher’s mound. Beneath his feet, are painted Trinitaria flowers, of the Dominican Republic, indistinguishable because of the glaze the artist applied over them. Martinez remarked on his portrait, “The softer side of me stayed hidden, like Susan’s flowers… Behind every big-league pitcher stands the real person, each with his own story to tell of resilience and an offering of hope.”

  • Susan Miller-Havens includes very little background in this painting. Martinez takes up the entirety of the composition. Why do you think she did that?
  • How would the feeling or meaning of this painting be different if Martinez was shown facing the viewer?
  • Consider the title for this portrait. Does it connect to your own interpretation? Why or why not?