Buck Martinez

John Albert "Buck" Martinez (born November 7, 1948) is an American former professional baseball catcher and manager, and is currently the television play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. He played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Kansas City Royals, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Toronto Blue Jays.[1] Since the end of his playing career, he has been a broadcaster, working on the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles radio and television broadcasts, and nationally for TBS and MLB Network. Martinez managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001 to May 2002 and Team USA at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.[2]

Buck Martinez
Martinez in 2009
Catcher / Manager
Born: (1948-11-07) November 7, 1948
Redding, California, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 18, 1969, for the Kansas City Royals
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1986, for the Toronto Blue Jays
MLB statistics
Batting average.225
Home runs58
Runs batted in321
Managerial record100–115
Winning %.465
As player

As manager

Playing career

Martinez attended Elk Grove High School, Sacramento City College, Sacramento State University, and Southwest Missouri State University.[1] He was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent before being taken by the Houston Astros in the 1968 rule 5 draft.[1] The Astros later traded him to the Kansas City Royals. Martinez made his major league debut in 1969, playing 72 games with the Royals. He is mentioned in Jim Bouton's 1970 bestseller Ball Four as John Martinez, a player Bouton and his Seattle teammates know little about. During a meeting, as Bouton's team is devising strategies to effectively pitch to their opponents, manager Joe Schultz lacks any concrete suggestions about the rookie Martinez, and famously advises that they just "zitz" him.

Over the next few years, however, Martinez developed the reputation of being an offensive liability. He never appeared in more than 95 games during his time with Kansas City, through 1977. He was traded twice on December 8, 1977 during the Winter Meetings. He was first sent along with Mark Littell to the St. Louis Cardinals for Al Hrabosky, then to the Milwaukee Brewers for George Frazier.[3] In the midst of an 18–8 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday, August 29, 1979, Martinez entered the game as the Brewers' sixth pitcher of the day. As a pitcher, Martinez batted in the 9th inning, stroking an RBI single. For Martinez, who played in over 1,000 ML games, this game was his lone appearance in the majors as a pitcher.[4]

Martinez was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays May 10, 1981 after being designated for assignment. He is most remembered for his time in Toronto, where he twice hit 10 home runs (in 1982 and 1983) and was regarded as a solid defensive catcher.

Martinez's career took a bad turn when he broke his leg and severely dislocated his ankle in a home plate collision with the Seattle Mariners' Phil Bradley at the Kingdome on July 9, 1985.[5] After the collision, he still attempted to throw out the advancing runner Gorman Thomas.[5] When the throw went into left field, Thomas tried to come home.[6] However, he was tagged out by a sprawled-out Martinez, who despite having a broken leg had managed to catch the return throw from George Bell on the ground, thus completing a 9–2–7–2 double play.[6]

Martinez was released by the Blue Jays on November 12, 1986, and became a free agent.[7] He was immediately summoned for a meeting with team management, and executive vice president Paul Beeston offered him an opportunity to be a part of the Blue Jays' television broadcast team. Martinez turned down the offer, hoping to instead continue his playing career with another organization. His wife, however, convinced him to call Beeston back and accept the job.[8]


Martinez in 2014

After retiring as an active player following the 1986 season, Martinez began his broadcasting career as a color analyst for Toronto Blue Jays games in 1987.[9] Eventually, this led to a job with TSN in which he was first paired with Fergie Olver.[10] When Olver was replaced by Jim Hughson in 1990, Martinez remained the color analyst.[10] The pair of Hughson and Martinez also worked together on a number of ESPN telecasts, as well as on EA Sports Triple Play Baseball video game series.[11] Hughson left TSN in 1994, and was replaced by Dan Shulman. Like Hughson, Shulman also frequently moonlighted on ESPN and eventually joined ESPN full-time, whereas Martinez became manager of the Blue Jays from 2001 to 2002. During his stint on ESPN, Shulman won a Sports Emmy Award for his work as part of the crew for the broadcast of Cal Ripken’s 2,131 game.[12]

For the 2003 to 2009 seasons, he was the color commentator for Baltimore Orioles television broadcasts, alongside play-by-play announcers Jim Hunter and Gary Thorne on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.[13] From 2005 to 2009, Martinez was a co-host of XM Radio's Baseball This Morning show on the MLB Home Plate channel and contributed color commentary for Sunday afternoon games and on TBS, as well as for the network's postseason coverage.[14] In late April 2009, Buck substituted for the ill Jerry Remy as commentator for the three game Red SoxRays series for NESN.

Martinez returned to the Blue Jays' broadcast booth in 2010, this time as a play-by-play announcer for their sister company and exclusive broadcaster, Sportsnet, replacing Jamie Campbell, who now hosts the pre-game telecast. His main broadcast partner on Sportsnet was former Blue Jay Pat Tabler. With Shulman's part-time return to the Blue Jays broadcast team in 2016, Martinez now splits duties between play-by-play and color analyst.[15] On September 25, 2014, Rogers announced Martinez had signed a five-year extension to remain the play-by-play announcer for Toronto.[16]

From 2016 to 2020, Martinez participated in the MLB International broadcast of the World Series as the color analyst.[17]

On April 17, 2022, Martinez announced he would take a leave of absence while undergoing treatment for cancer.[18] On July 26, Martinez returned to Sportsnet after the completion of his treatment.[19]

Managerial career

In 2000, Martinez was hired as Toronto's manager after Jim Fregosi's contract was not renewed. Martinez's energetic attitude was seen as the right fit for the Jays' young roster and through the first two months of the season Toronto outperformed expectations. The success, however, was short-lived as the team struggled through the remainder of the season and finished a mediocre 80–82. He was fired 53 games into the 2002 season after posting a 20–33 record.[20] At the time he was fired, the Blue Jays were on a three-game winning streak, having just swept the Detroit Tigers. He was replaced as manager by Carlos Tosca.[21]

Martinez was selected as the field manager for Team USA in the 2006 inaugural World Baseball Classic.[22] He led the superstar-laden American squad to the second round. While Martinez wore number 13 as both a player and a manager in the Major Leagues, he wore number 31 while managing in the WBC because Alex Rodriguez had already been assigned number 13.


TeamYearRegular SeasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
TOR2001 1628082.4943rd in AL East
TOR2002 532033.377fired

Personal life

Martinez and his wife Arlene have one son Casey, a 47th round pick by Toronto in the 2000 First Year Player Draft.[23] They reside in New Port Richey, Florida.

Martinez has authored three books. From Worst To First: The Toronto Blue Jays in 1985 was published in 1985, The Last Out: The Toronto Blue Jays In 1986 in 1986[5] and Change Up: How to Make the Great Game of Baseball Even Better in 2016.[24]

Martinez counts himself as part of the Karuk Tribe of northern California.[25]

In April 2022, Martinez was diagnosed with cancer.[26]


  1. "Buck Martinez Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  2. "MLB on TBS: Buck Martinez". TBS.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008.
  3. "Cards Trade Hrabosky to Royals for Littell," The Associated Press (AP), Saturday, December 10, 1977. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  4. "Milwaukee Brewers at Kansas City Royals Box Score, August 29, 1979". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  5. "Buck Martinez's broken leg and his journey into broadcasting". CBC.ca. CBC Archives. January 6, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  6. McDermott, Mark (August 9, 2014). "Area baseball beat: One memorable play proved how tough Buck Martinez was". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  7. "Buck Martinez @ Baseball Reference". Baseball Reference. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  8. "Buck Martinez Talks Retirement From Baseball and Transition Into Broadcasting". YouTube. Canadawide Sports. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  9. Kurkjian, Tim (July 10, 2012). "Buck Martinez is about to take on a brand new role - one he's been rehearsing for his whole life". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  10. Shea, Stuart (May 7, 2015). Calling the Game: Baseball Broadcasting from 1920 to the Present. SABR, Inc. p. 335. ISBN 978-1933599410.
  11. Ragals, Dave (March 19, 1998). "EA Sports turns a Triple Play... again". CNN. Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  12. "Buck Martinez". Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame.
  13. Schmuck, Peter (March 17, 2010). "Buck stops here". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  14. "Blue Jays Broadcasters". MLB.com.
  15. "Buck Martinez returns as Blue Jays TV announcer | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. December 10, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  16. "Sportsnet locks up Blue Jays broadcast duo". Sportsnet. September 25, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  17. "Sportsnet touts four million viewers for Jays vs. Orioles matchup". Archived from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  18. "Blue Jays analyst Buck Martinez leaving TV booth for cancer treatment". CBC Sports. April 17, 2022. Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  19. "Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez back in the booth Tuesday after completing cancer treatments". thestar.com. July 23, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  20. "Blue Jays fire Buck Martinez". CBC.ca. CBC Sports. June 4, 2002. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  21. "American League; Blue Jays Lose Patience with Buck Martinez". The New York Times. The Associated Press. June 4, 2002. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  22. "Buck Martinez to manage Team USA at World Baseball Classic". MLB.com. Major League Baseball Players Association. December 5, 2005. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  23. "Casey Martinez Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  24. "Why Buck Martinez feels bad for today's baseball players". CBC.ca. March 22, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  25. David Giddens (June 21, 2021). "Indigenous sports heroes heading to the classroom". CBC Sports. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  26. "Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez leaving TV booth following cancer diagnosis". CTV News. April 18, 2022. Retrieved May 10, 2022.

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