"Ramon is the biggest reason I have gotten where I am. He is the great one in this family. I am still Ramon's little brother." -Pedro Martinez, 1998.
I liked this quote, because it introduced the main theme of the story, and showed that even when Pedro was at the height of his fame, he still gave all the credit to his big brother. For the accompanying image, I wanted to show Pedro Martinez pitching at Fenway Park in 1998, his first season with the Red Sox. I wanted to somehow capture the excitement of being at Fenway when Pedro was pitching. This is the first book I've ever done about a player I actually got to see in person, so this is the first time I really got to pour my own memories into my story and illustrations.
|I took this picture of Pedro warming up before a game in 1998.|
Then I had an idea. I realized that to capture all that excitement, I didn't even need to show Pedro. I just needed to show a small section of the bleachers. Because back then, you could tell Pedro was pitching just by looking around, and feeling the energy in the park. So I made this sketch:
I submitted this sketch to my art director with a note suggesting that the endpapers be red. I liked the idea of opening up the book and seeing the green wall on page one up against the red endpapers, which would match the red Ks and the red details in the crowd. I wanted the book itself to feel like Fenway.
Here's how it ended up looking in the book:
|I took this picture of the K Men during game 4 of the 1999 ALDS vs the Indians.|
|Here I am with my wife, Sarah, and one of the original K Men, my friend Kirk Carapezza. He taught us some of the rituals and rules, and even let us post Pedro's first K of the 2003 season.|
|Fenway Park had undergone a major renovation over the offseason, so this was the first game when the K Men were left with no wall upon which to post their Ks. So they tried using a clothes line.|
|It was tricky, but we did it!|
|Walking around Fenway Park as a K Man felt a lot like how I imagine Santa Claus must feel walking around the mall.|
|Kevin McCarthy, K Baby, me, Sarah, and Kirk Carapezza.|
As you can see, the K Men have chilled out a bit in the post-Pedro years. They don't paint their faces any more (they call it "K-Kasual"). But as you can also see, my older daughter is a purist.
|My K Family with the K Men|
A few other little details to look for on page one of Growing Up Pedro:
*Both my kids are in the picture, dressed just how they were on that night in 2013 when we posted Ks. Can you find them?
*There is one Yankee fan in the picture, my friend Jim who helped make it possible for me to go to the Dominican Republic and do some research for this book. He's wearing a Yankee jacket in the illustration, though Jim pointed out that I seem to have accidentally (or subconsciously?) painted a little red dot on his cap, so it looks like a Red Sox cap. See if you can find him!
*Back then, there was a peanut vendor who would throw bags of peanuts incredible distances with amazing accuracy. I included him in the crowd on page one. See if you can spot him! Here's a picture of him I found online:
|Rob "Nuts" Barry, Fenway Park, 1999|
All of that was just for page one. I still had thirty-nine pages to go...
And that's why my books take me a really long time!
GROWING UP PEDRO. Text and Illustrations copyright 2015 Matt Tavares. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Inc., Somerville, MA.