Originally signed by the Phillies, Martinez fashioned a seventeen-season career on
defensive talents. Although a .283 hitter in five minor league campaigns, he hit
over .250 only twice in the majors. He was slow afoot and hit with power infrequently.
He was, however, excellent at blocking home plate, had an accurate arm, and handled
pitchers well. Martinez was most productive in platoon situations, first with Bob Stinson at Kansas City, then with Charlie Moore in Milwaukee, and finally paired
with Ernie Whitt for Toronto. In 1976 he tied Jim Sundberg for best fielding average
(.991) among AL receivers.
Martinez never fully recovered from a fractured leg
and dislocated ankle sustained while blocking home plate in July 1985. After tagging
out the lead runner and suffering the broken leg, he threw to third from the ground.
It was a bad throw, and that runner came home too; Martinez managed to take the throw
and tag him out as well.
Martinez worked as a broadcaster for the Blue Jays and ESPN until November 2000, when he was hired to replace Jim Fregosi as the club's manager.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»August 29, 1979:
Kansas City blasts Milwaukee pitching for an 18–8 victory. Brett and Otis hit back-to-back home runs in the 8-run 4th, after LaCock hits a 3-run home run in the 5-run 3rd. Milwaukee finally uses 3B Sal Bando for three innings on the mound (2 runs), 2B Jim Gantner for an inning (no runs), and C Buck Martinez (1 run) in relief.
»July 9, 1985: In the bottom of the third inning of a game between the Blue Jays and the Mariners, Phil Bradley is on second with one out when Gorman Thomas singles to right. Jesse Barfield's throw to Buck Martinez nails Bradley, though Martinez breaks his ankle in the collision. When Thomas tries to take 3B on the play, Martinez' throw sails into LF. Thomas tries to score but George Bell's throw to Martinez beats him. Buck makes the catch and tag while sitting on the ground. Whitt takes over catching and the Jays win in 13 innings, 9–4. The big blow is a grand slam homer by George Bell in the 13th —the first extra inning slam in club history—to break a 4–4 tie.
»November 2, 2000: The Blue Jays select former C and announcer Buck Martinez as their new manager.
»June 3, 2002: Buck Martinez is fired as Toronto manager. He is replaced by 3B coach Carlos Tosca.