The moment is getting closer.
In six days, Ivan Rodriguez will take his spot among the greatest to ever play the game of baseball when he’s inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Pudge becomes the sixth player who wore a Rangers uniform to enter the hallow halls of baseball immortality in Cooperstown. Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, Goose Gossage and Bert Blyleven were all part of the Rangers organization at one time. Pudge also becomes the 18th catcher to be inducted into The Hall.
This Sunday is a chance for the Rangers family to stick their chest out and be proud.
“It’s a great moment for Pudge and his family,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. “I can remember Pudge as a 16-year old down in Port Charlotte throwing a ball all over the place as a catcher, picking everybody off and hitting line drives.”
The 14-time All-Star and 1999 American League MVP played 21 seasons in the majors, 13 of those with the Rangers. He went on to add 13 Gold Gloves and a World Series championship with the Marlins in 2003 to his impressive resume.
The Rangers will wear a jersey patch and special game socks during their weekend series in Arlington with the Baltimore Orioles to honor Pudge’s Hall of Fame induction. The RODRIGUEZ 7 patch will be on the right jersey sleeves. In addition, the special red Stance Socks will include PUDGE and 7 on the sides.
Pudge will also become the fourth native from Puerto Rico to enter The Hall, which means a lot to his fellow countrymen.
“This one is gonna be special – not only for the organization but for the Latin Americans,” said centerfielder Carlos Gomez. “He’s a role model for all of us and we are really proud.”
Pudge remains active with the organization as a special assistant to the general manager, team ambassador, instructor and pre-and-post game host for Rangers games. The knowledge that is brought from a Hall of Famer also carries great weight in the Rangers clubhouse.
“It’s important to us,” said pitcher Martin Perez. “He’s played a long time at this level. He got the chance to talk to us when we we’re not playing good – he would just come through here and sit with us and tell us what we need to do. He’s always telling us to try to turn the page and come back every day with good preparation and be ready for the game.”
Pudge is already a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame and will become the third Ranger to have his number retired by the club when No. 7 is added to the left field façade at The Globe on August 12. The on-field ceremony is slated to start around 6:45 p.m. before the game against the Astros.
As Sunday gets closer, the Pudge admits the nerves may start to kick in a little. Or maybe not, according to Banister.
“Pudge is never nervous.”