|NO QUESTIONING HIS TALENT.|
|MAYBE A QUESTION OR TWO ON HOW HE MANIPULATED IT.|
DEFINING THE PLAYER
- The only thing worse than a bad nickname is a borrowed nickname. For some reason, catcher Ivan Rodriguez was called "Pudge,'' even though #125 Carlton Fisk earned that distinction in the 1970s. Guess it's better than iRod or Ivannanewdrug. That aside, Rodriguez had mad catching skills, winning 13 Gold Gloves, and a lethal bat, batting .296 with 311 homers. Rumors swirled of PED use, but he never was implicated, other than in #99 Jose Canseco's book Juiced. His legacy surely will be tainted.
- The 14-time All-Star's toughness was on display in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 4, 2003. The Marlins led the Giants 7-5 in the ninth inning, three outs from advancing to the NLCS. After #156 J.T. Snow drove in a run to close the gap to one, closer Ugueth Urbina got the next two batters before a hit-batsman moved Snow into scoring position. Jeffrey Hammonds singled to left, setting the stage for a play at the plate. #54 Jeff Conine threw a strike to Rodriguez, who held the ball as Snow ran him over. It was the first time a playoff series ended on a play at the plate.
- In '99, Rodriguez put it all together for the AL MVP. He hit .332 with 35 homers, 113 RBI and won his eighth Gold Glove with the Rangers.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- Growing up in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez's childhood sandlot rival was #116 Juan Gonzalez, a future Rangers' teammate.
- Became the youngest player to catch a game at 19 when he made his debut for the Rangers on June 20, 1991.
- Voted the '03 NLCS MVP, edging Steve Bartman, by hitting .321 with two homers and 10 RBI.
- Hit his 300th homer and passed Fisk for most games caught with 2,227 in '09; Rodriguez retired with the record at 2,427.
- Rodriguez's Hall of Fame debate will begin in earnest in '17, his first year of eligibility.