Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #47 IVAN RODRIGUEZ


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.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • 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.

DEFINING SEASON

  • 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

  1. Growing up in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez's childhood sandlot rival was #116 Juan Gonzalez, a future Rangers' teammate.
  2. Became the youngest player to catch a game at 19 when he made his debut for the Rangers on June 20, 1991.
  3. Voted the '03 NLCS MVP, edging Steve Bartman, by hitting .321 with two homers and 10 RBI.
  4. Hit his 300th homer and passed Fisk for most games caught with 2,227 in '09; Rodriguez retired with the record at 2,427.
  5. Rodriguez's Hall of Fame debate will begin in earnest in '17, his first year of eligibility.

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