COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - The reason the three of them were among the most successful pitchers of their era was that they could deliver something that no one expected. So it was only fitting that they did it on the day they were enshrined.
John Smoltz wore a wig on his bald head, Randy Johnson spoke poignantly and the loquacious Pedro Martinez made the biggest splash by what he did, not by what he said.
Martinez, the last to speak during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony Sunday, concluded his remarks by calling on Juan Marichal to help him hold up the flag of the Dominican Republic, their country.
"I think it was the greatest gift I could come up with," said Martinez, the stellar pitcher for the Red Sox and other teams who became the first Hall of Famer from the Dominican since Marichal in 1983. Martinez said he came up with the idea at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, adding: "I was having a hard time to catch the last hours of sleep."
His portion of the ceremony was anything but sleepy. His introduction was marked by vibrant drumbeats, chants of "Ped-ro!" and the sight of hundreds of miniature Dominican flags being waved in the estimated crowd of 45,000. He spoke in both Spanish -- a talk filled with the word "gracias" for "thank you" -- and English.
Martinez didn't concentrate on his statistics or achievements but on trying to be an inspiration.
Unlike most other present and past inductees, who wore dark suits, Martinez wore royal blue with patches on both shoulders. He later explained that one was a Dominican symbol, the other an American symbol. "I wanted to give America the same props I gave the Dominican Republic," he said.
Smoltz, who played almost all of his career for the Braves, surprised much of the crowd when he revealed that his parents wanted him to be an accordion player, as they both are.
He told them when he was 7 that he wanted to be a big-leaguer. He admitted to being chagrined about having been traded from his hometown Tigers to the Braves, then the worst team in the majors.
He credited Bobby Cox for having made the trade and for creating an atmosphere that allowed him to flourish, along with fellow Hall of Fame pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Smoltz reached under the lectern, pulled out a wild black wig and put it on his head as he joked about getting razzed by Maddux for his dome.
Smoltz, the first pitcher elected to the Hall after having had Tommy John surgery, grew serious when he cautioned parents and coaches about taxing young pitchers. "They compete too hard too early," he said. "Please, let's take care of those future arms."
Johnson was perhaps the most surprising. The 6-10 pitcher, nicknamed The Big Unit and known for an intense, edgy disposition, showed a distinctly softer side.
He spoke glowingly about, and to, his mother: "Thank you, Mom, you're the Hall of Famer. I love you, Mom. You are the most important person in my life."
The tallest Hall of Famer also detailed his international trips on behalf of the USO, saluted Wounded Warriors and gave a shout-out to an Ohio State ballplayer who is gravely ill.
"I no longer have a fastball. I no longer have a mullet," he told the crowd. "And my scowl is long gone."