WATERVILLE — Antonio Martinez was by all accounts a well-loved son, brother, grandson, friend, and all-around notable student and baseball player at Thomas College who graduated last year with a degree in criminal justice.

Antonio Martinez was a baseball player at Thomas College who died in a car wreck just a few weeks after graduating last year. The college on Saturday, Oct. 16, held a ceremony honoring the popular former student. Photo courtesy of Thomas College

So when Martinez, 22, died in a vehicle crash shortly after graduation, his family, friends and those who knew him on campus were devastated — even more so because they could not honor him at a celebration of life due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But more than 100 people, including his family members from Florida and Thomas faculty, staff, students and coaches, made up for that Saturday. They gathered on the college’s Allen Ryan Field after heavy rain to dedicate a bullpen in Martinez’s name, announce scholarships to three students in his name, and remember the upbeat, friendly and hard-working graduate.

Thomas President Laurie Lachance called it a solemn, but very special, celebration of Martinez’s life.

“Antonio was a vibrant, caring and extremely optimistic member of our community,” she said.

Martinez, she said, was involved in several campus activities and was a member of the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity.


“Antonio’s tragic passing shook everyone here at Thomas to our very, very core,” Lachance said.

The all-volunteer Student Philanthropy Team raised $6,400 for scholarships in Martinez’s memory as a way to keep his legacy alive for many years, according to Lachance. Students Brianna Figueroa, Ja’Tyra Greene and Matthew Hadnot were chosen to receive the first scholarships.

Thomas College head baseball Coach Greg King speaks Saturday about former player Antonio Martinez. The school was dedicating a bullpen to Martinez, who died in a vehicle crash after he graduated last year. The sign will be hung on Allen Ryan Field. More than 100 people attended the dedication on the Thomas campus. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Martinez’s baseball coach, Greg King, gave an emotional speech in which he cited remembrances of Martinez, written by fellow team members. They said he was a bright soul with amazing energy, brought the best out in everyone and was the “rock of the baseball team and school as a whole.”

“I often joked with Antonio that he was the mayor of the college,” King said.

Martinez’s mother, Silvia Martinez, gathered at the podium with her husband, Oscar, their three sons, Oscar Jr., Giovanni and Silvio, as well as Antonio’s grandmother, Francesca, all of whom had traveled to Waterville from Florida for the remembrance. Silvia Martinez said Antonio was a special son, a best big brother and an amazing grandson, nephew and cousin.

“Antonio was a best friend, a bro, he was loyal, humble and the advocate you wanted on your side,” she said.


She thanked everyone at Thomas, where she said Antonio felt at home and loved playing baseball.

“We always knew Antonio was our angel here on Earth and he is a true angel in heaven, watching over us,” she said.

A banner on the fence at Allen Ryan Field at Thomas College honors the memory of Antonio Martinez, a former Thomas baseball player who died after graduating from the college last year. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

The group unveiled the bullpen sign in Martinez’s memory and his name was also on a banner hanging on nearby fencing. The family was given a baseball bat in his memory.

According to news reports, Martinez was traveling north June 21, 2020, on Interstate 295 when he apparently lost control of the truck he was driving and it left the highway, north of Exit 43 in Richmond. Maine State Police said the vehicle rolled several times before coming to a stop near the breakdown lane.

Martinez had planned to start working on his masters degree in criminal justice at Thomas last fall.

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