Ivan Rodriguez retired from baseball earlier in the week and when the Texas Rangers opened up their series against the New York Yankees, Pudge was called upon to deliver the ceremonial first pitch. However, he did it on his own unique terms. Rodriguez crouched behind home plate to deliver a strike to current Rangers infielder Michael Young.
Rodriguez’s strike was as perfect as it was going to be. The free agent catcher seemed to be more in tune with his defensive status than some catchers that are playing in Major League Baseball today.
Rodriguez spent 13 years with the Rangers. He played in 1507 games for the team compiling a batting average of .304 and hitting 217 home runs and driving in 842 RBI. Pudge spent 2427 games behind the plate for all of the 21 years he has played in the game.
From the Rangers he spent five years with the Detroit Tigers, two years with the Washington Nationals, a year with the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and the Florida Marlins. Rodriguez even won a World Series behind the plate with the Marlins in 2003.
He has been in 14 All-Star games. He has won the 1999 American League MVP and the 2003 National League Championship Series MVP. He has won 13 Gold Glove awards as a catcher as well. He has caught games pitched by Nolan Ryan and Stephen Strasburg.
No one will ever be the same as Pudge. He is in a category of his own and when you think of the greatest catchers of all-time, Ivan Rodriguez is definitely in that category.