Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez came up with the Texas Rangers on June 20th, 1991. And from the start everyone who saw him play knew he was going to be special. For the first few seasons he was the youngest player in the Majors, but he was also one of the most talented. “Pudge” as he was affectionately nicknamed by fans and teammates made himself a fan favorite from the start.
He was known to have a “cannon” for an arm, and there weren’t many players in the league at that time that could successfully steal on him. Rodriguez was one of a handful of Hispanic players that made their debuts in the early 90’s and these guys were seen to be “core” of a team on the rise. The team did rise with Rodriguez being one of the key players.
“Pudge” was part of two A.L. West championship teams with the Rangers and was also named MVP in 1999. But his tenure with the Rangers came to a tragic end when John Hart decided not to try and re-sign the catcher, for fear he was on the down slope of his career. This move made Hart a much un liked character for the rest of his time in Texas. Rodriguez went on to sign with the Florida Marlins and continued his career.
That season with the Marlins, Rodriguez was able to win a World Series title with a youthful team, he established himself as a veteran leader and quality catcher. But after that championship season, he decided not to re-sign with Florida and instead went to Detroit. This move kind of started a vagabond life for Rodriguez, he eventually had stints with the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Returned to the Rangers and Washington Nationals.
While he bounced around during the “twilight” of his career, one thing remained certain, he was still one of the best catchers to play the game. He has decided to return “home” and retire from the game he loves with the team that helped him get his start. It is only fitting that he should hang up the cleats where he first put them on.
The Texas Rangers are going to have a ceremony for him before Monday night’s game, and I am sure that he will get a rousing ovation from the fans. “Pudge” can now start the countdown till the day he stands on the steps of Cooperstown, and get enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And he will undoubtedly be wearing a Rangers cap when he does.