As I have gone along on a long life journey there are many different kinds of people I have experienced. There have been the good, the bad, and indifferent and one was pure evil.

I’ve got to tell you about that evil because it was a stunning experience. It was the summer of 1964 and I was visiting Portville, NY, my old hometown where my sister lived. I went into my favorite beer garden where 20-somes gathered to play Euchre have a few drinks and plan strategy for that evening.

I just got there and had my hand on the neck of an ice-cold Iroquois  beer bottle (my favorite beer) when the side door to the bar opened and a man walked in and sat two bar stools down from me. Instantly, I was overwhelmed with an awful feeling. It was so bad I had to get up without taking even a sip of Iroquois and leave though the same side door, and I never went back. I never saw the man’s face, but the feeling was so bad I had to get out quickly and far away as possible. If you can feel evil, I felt it.

Conversely, I know goodness when I see it. Edgar Martinez, the Baseball Hall of Famer who played parts of 18 seasons in the Mariners fits that description perfectly. You couldn’t ask for a better man – and not many better baseball players – than Martinez.

The old saying, “He’s a good player, but an even better person” fits Martinez, whose autobiography, “Edgar” was published with the help of excellent Seattle Times sports columnist Larry Stone, which I am in the process of reading and which I recommend.

The turning point for Edgar came when he was 11 and living with his grandparents in Dorado, Puerto Rico (he was born in New York City and moved to Dorado as an infant). His parents were separated but planned to get together again in New York City and Edgar’s sister and brother were excited to go back to the city. Edgar was not. He wanted to stay in Dorado and assist his grandparents.

When it came time to fly to New York, Edgar was nowhere to be found. He had climbed up on the roof of his grandparent’s house and couldn’t be seen. When a long search could not find him, his parents and siblings left without him after they were told by his grandfather he didn’t want to go.

It was a turning point for Edgar, who had a wonderful role model in his grandparents who championed hard work and respect. His grandfather never took a day off and did things the right way, which rubbed off on Edgar who became a perfectionist like his grandfather.

Being in Puerto Rico was a god-sent because he could play baseball in a country where the sport was king and where young prospects routinely were scouted and signed by Major Leagues.

Edgar hit stones with a broom stick for long hours stones and swung at drops of water from the roof that helped him build great hand-eye coordination and would serve him well over his long career.

He became an excellent third baseman who could pick it with the best, throw it with a strong and accurate arm, and had all the tools scouts liked except hit for power (he became a designated hitter when a leg injury forced him to the bench).

Edgar became great as a baseball player because he had supreme confidence in his ability, was disciplined, very passionate, and very consistent and very calm. He never deviated from good things he discovered along the way that improved him as a player.

When Ken Phelps, the then Mariners’ first baseman whose parents lived in Chico at the time, surprisingly told Edgar one day he should lift weights to get stronger. He thought, why not? It was something he adopted pretty quickly and like everything else he did, he did it consistently. After ball games at the Kingdome (where the Mariners first played) he always lifted and it eventually was extended to his home.

Lifting made him stronger and led him to become the home run hitter the Mariners brass insisted they wanted from their corner (first and third) players. Lacking home run power was main reason he was stuck at AAA for four years despite leading the league in hitting. Plus Jim Presley and Darnell Coles were ahead of him, so the Mariners stalled his advancement, which turned out to be a bad decision

His path to the big leagues finally opened up when in 1990 the Mariners traded Presley to Atlanta and Coles was moved to the outfield before also being traded that year to Detroit. Edgar was finally in the big leagues for good, and we all had the good fortune to see him perform with the Mariners as a bright light among all the gloom of bad teams until the 1995 playoff team.

Edgar had to overcome more than the Mariner brass not believing in him. He realized the mental part of the game (indeed in life) meant more than anything. Instead of visualizing the negative he began visualizing the positive. He would see himself getting a hit as he strode to the plate, and sitting on the bench as the team’s designated hitter he would pick up clues from the opponent  pitcher that gave away what kind of pitch he was about to throw.

He believes the mental approach is the difference between a good MLB player and a great MLB player. The great ones have supreme confidence and a positive attitude. That describes Edgar.

That mental approach worked when he delivered the hit in 1995 that probably saved baseball in Seattle and sent the Mariners to their first playoffs, erasing years of futility with one swing.

In Game 5 of the Divisional Series against the Yankees, Edgar struck out on a split-fingered fastball in the ninth inning against Sudden Sam McDowell, a powerful left-hander. If he had gotten a hit, the Mariners would have won the game and moved on to the championship series against Cleveland. The strikeout really bothered Edgar.

The game came down to the bottom of the 11th inning with the Yankees leading 5-4.  The Mariners had Joey Cora on third and Ken Griffey on first as Martinez walked to the plate. He knew McDowell would throw the split-finger again, and he had visualized hitting it. The first pitch was a fastball and Edgar knew next would be the split-finger. He was ready for it and when it came he hit it solidly into the leftfield corner and Griffey scored all the way from first as the winning run sending a sellout crowd into frenzy. And it helped send Martinez into lore and into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

What is amazing is Edgar drove in over 100 runs six times and hit over .300 11 times in his career while playing with a stigma known as Strabismus, a rare condition that causes the eyes to be misaligned. He read all he could about the condition, was treated for it for years by a doctor, and did eye exercises before and after games to align the eyes so he would see to hit. It’s remarkable he could do what he did.  He not only did it, but became a two-time American League batting champion and won the American League Designated Hitter Award five times. The award is now named after him.

There is an unofficial rule against cheering in the pressbox and I was one of the quieter ones. I just didn’t talk much, but there was one exception.

I covered Edgar’s career and I remember a series of home games in which pitchers could not get Edgar out. He would foul off pitches that were close, but were not good enough for him to hit fair. Finally, he would find one and get a hit. Almost always.

This went on game-after game until I could no longer stay within the unofficial pressbox rule. When Edgar got another hit I erupted in loud and involuntary laugher. It seemed the entire pressbox jerked their heads toward me and wondered what was going on with me.

It was just Edgar Martinez being Edgar Martinez, the best right-handed hitter I ever saw, and one of the best humans I have come across.