Pedro Martínez: Phillies dealt with swine flu during 2009 World Series

Bill Baer

Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martínez is best-known for helping the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, ending “The Curse of the Bambino” — the 86-year-long period dating back to 1918 in which the Red Sox failed to win a championship. Martínez, however, also ended his career in 2009 with the Phillies, pitching in Game 2 and Game 6 of the World Series against the Yankees. The defending champion Phillies lost the World Series in six games and Martínez couldn’t find another contract. He officially retired on December 4, 2011.

Martínez returned to Philadelphia on Sunday as part of the Phillies’ alumni weekend. Long-time outfielder Bobby Abreu was inducted into the Wall of Fame and the organization celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2009 National League champion team. Martínez, along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raúl Ibañez and others were invited back. Martínez threw out the first pitch before Sunday’s game against the White Sox. Good times were had by all.

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Martínez, however, let loose an interesting and unknown detail about the 2009 team: many members of the team were sick, suffering from swine flu during the 2009 World Series. Per Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Martínez said, “It wasn’t told, but most of us were sick. Some of the guys had swine flu and had to be kept away. I caught some of the virus. We would just never say it. When I got home, I realized that I was really sick.”

Continuing, Martínez said, “I had a little bit of an asthma attack in the middle of the game and I was having a hard time breathing. I was really sick. In any other situation, I wouldn’t be out there. But the team needed me. I held on as long as I could and I did that. I was really proud to have my last game with the Phillies at Yankee Stadium.”

Martínez has never been one to make excuses, so it would be surprising if he were trying to make excuses for the Phillies’ loss or if he were trying to detract from the Yankees’ championship a whole decade later. But it is interesting nevertheless. The swine flu clearly didn’t affect everyone because Utley, Ibañez, Werth, Carlos Ruiz, and Cliff Lee performed quite well in the ’09 World Series. The Yankees, who won 10 more games than the Phillies during the regular season that year, were just better.

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