In 1976, Dennis Martínez became the first Nicaraguan to play in the big leagues – and he remains by far the most successful. Indeed, his 245 major-league wins are the most by any Latino pitcher, two ahead of Juan Marichal. Martínez got more than half of those wins after overcoming an alcohol problem that nearly derailed his career. His single most outstanding performance came on July 28, 1991, when he became the 13th pitcher to throw a perfect game.
El Presidente – as Martínez is often known in the U.S. – was a nickname he first received in 1979 from Orioles teammate Ken Singleton.1 In later years, Martínez’s name was bandied about as a candidate for president of Nicaragua, but only by a fringe party. The U.S. press ran with the idea, and it went mainstream in the States. His countrymen refer to Martínez as El Chirizo, which refers to his shock of mestizo hair. Without dispute, though, he has long been an enormous hero at home. In 1998, Nicaragua renamed its national stadium in his honor.