Story Time with Al Martin

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Al Martin was the creative type. Creativity would be needed in Pittsburgh to replace the departing Barry Bonds and the resulting drop in ticket sales. Martin always had quotes available for reporters. He helped the team’s marketing by suggesting unfamiliar players greet arriving fans as they entered the park and found new ways to reach the Pittsburgh community. This creativity, however, would go on to become a little surreal and lead to problems.

At some point Martin told Pittsburgh that he had played football on a scholarship at USC. The story made it into press guides for the Pirates, Padres, and later the Mariners before being questioned after he discussed details of making a particular tackle. The problematic detail is that the player he supposedly brought down never played against USC during the Martin’s time with the team. Further complicating matters is USC saying it has no record of Martin ever attending, let alone being on the football team. I am inclined to believe USC over Martin, as he was playing minor league baseball when this was supposed to have occurred.

A made-up foray into college football isn’t the only tall tale attributed to the Pirates outfielder. A domestic violence incident reported by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette brought to light a marital problem: specifically a surplus of marriages. Martin and his wife became physical after tensions boiled over about a Las Vegas wedding to another woman. He told others that he thought the Vegas wedding wasn’t legally binding but didn’t elaborate on why he thought his current wife would be cool with the idea.

Martin was an annual threat for the 20/20 club

Al Martin had only appeared in 12 games when this card was released. Although technically not a rookie card (’92 Fleer Update and Donruss Rookies get the nod), it’s about as early a card as can be found for the Pirates outfielder.