COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Pedro Martinez' pitching career with the Boston Red Sox was brief but brilliant: seven seasons, one World Series, two Cy Young Awards and plenty of grit and gusto.

In 2005, after the Sox had won their first World Series championship in 86 years, Martinez signed with the New York Mets and his brilliance slowly faded. But baseball fans in Boston are still passionate about Pedro. And this weekend thousands of those fans brought their passion to Cooperstown to join the quotable right-hander as he was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

In his induction speech, Martinez recognized his roots in the Dominican Republic, but he also turned his attention to Boston and its fans.

“Boston, I don’t have enough words to say how much I love you,” he said.

As a Red Sox fan, I know that Boston loved him back.

After seeing Pedro's first start at Fenway Park in 1998, my friend Ryan McCarthy and I decided to track his strikeouts with red K signs, the symbol for strikeouts.

As Pedro racked up the strikeouts — 313 in 1999, 284 in 2000 — we posted Ks at every game.

From 1998 to 2004, we K-Men occupied the last row of the centerfield bleachers. We posted the signs as high as we could and counted Pedro's ponchados: "Uno, dos, tres!"

We were teenagers from Boston's suburbs, and, for us, Pedro's starts were journeys to another world.

Planet Pedro had the festive, surreal atmosphere of a Dominican street festival in Kenmore Square. We chanted “Pe-dro! Pe-dro! Pe-dro!” each time he had two strikes on a hitter. The whole region was in the grips of this small but hard-throwing ace, who, on his off days, led antics in the dugout and played pranks on his teammates.

Sometimes we K-men took the show on the road. In September 1999, we braved the Bronx to see Pedro strike out 17 Yankees in what some fans think was the best game ever pitched — by anyone.  We saw his six no-hit innings of relief against the Cleveland Indians to clinch the 1999 American League Division Series.  And of course, we were there in 2004 when Pedro and the Sox brought us the first championship since 1918. Curse reversed.

Pedro has as much flair off the field as he had on it.

“I don’t believe in damn curses,” Pedro told reporters after striking out 13 Yankees in 2001. “Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass, pardon me the word.”

Looking back, after three World Series championships for the Sox, it's easy to forget that the late 1990s were still a tough time to be a Red Sox fan. But every fifth game Pedro's brilliance reminded us all that hope springs eternal. We returned to Fenway, climbing the steps to Row 31 where we posted our K signs.

On Sunday, Pedro was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio. And we were there, too. We brought the Ks and held them high, surrounded by Dominican-flag waving fans who came from as near as Lawrence, Mass., and far as Santo Domingo. For some of the Dominicans, it was their first visit to the United States. Standing in a open field under the July sun, it felt like Pedro’s early days in Boston — like we were back in the bleachers again.

And once again, Pedro inspired us. Not with his pitching performance, but with his passionate words for the game we share.