ATLANTA -- The Braves lost a valuable and treasured friend when Jose Martinez suddenly passed away at an Orlando-area hospital on Wednesday night. Martinez had spent the past couple of weeks exercising his passion to help young baseball players at the Braves' Spring Training complex.
Martinez, 72, had just completed his 20th season as a special assistant to the general manager in the Braves' organization. The friendly Cuban was lured to Atlanta by Braves president John Schuerholz before the 1995 season. Schuerholz and Martinez had become associated while they were together in the Royals' organization.
While he had a good eye for scouting talent in Latin American countries, Martinez's greatest value came via his ability to relate and communicate with the Minor League players as they adjusted to life in professional baseball. His contributions on the development end were appreciated by former first-round Draft pick Matt Lipka and the many other players who benefited from his desire to assist.
Martinez also touched the lives of many front office members, including Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who worked for the Braves before going to Kansas City. Moore was one of the many who used to enjoy the nights when Martinez would cook some kind of fish and tell stories until the late night hours during Spring Training.
Before joining the Braves, Martinez spent 15 seasons as a Major League coach for the Royals (1980-88) and Cubs ('88-94). His big league playing career consisted of the 201 games he played over two seasons ('69-70) with the Pirates.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.