The nephew of former Raiders cornerback Rod Martin, Al grew up a die-hard Dodgers fan during Los Angeles glory days of the late 1970s but found major-league success as an outfielder with the Pirates. Originally drafted by the Braves, Martin nearly quit pro ball when his career stalled in Double-A Greenville in 1991, but pep talks from Hank Aaron and Willie Stargell convinced him to keep at it. He reached the majors with Pittsburgh in 1993 and the next season began a string of seven-plus seasons in which he consistently posted double-digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases.
Although he wasn’t a very selective hitter, Martin was most successful batting near the top of the order. When the power-hungry Pirates tried to move him down to the three-spot, he struggled. Martin pouted in 1998 when Gene Lamont announced he would be platooning with the untested Manny Martinez, and would have been dealt to Arizona the following spring had Diamondbacks outfielder Bernard Gilkey not refused a move to Pittsburgh. Instead, Martin stayed with the Bucs, underwent laser eye surgery, and turned in his most productive season yet, batting .277 with 20 stolen bases, 24 homers, and 63 RBIs.
Resurrecting his career didn’t keep Martin off the trading block. In February 2000, he was sent to San Diego for veteran outfielder John Vander Wal and was immediately named the Padres’ starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. The honeymoon ended a month later, however, when Martin was arrested for a woman claiming to be his wife. Martin, already married to another woman, was eventually charged with bigamy.
Martin hit .306 in limited duty with the Padres, but was sent to Seattle at the trading deadline for John Mabry and Tom Davey. A year later, Martin was the topic of another bizarre news item when a newspaper reported that contrary to his professional bio, he had never played college football at USC.