Today, one of my childhood baseball heroes gained baseball immortality and was voted into the most prestigious of clubs in sports, the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez. This is his first year on the ballot, and barely squeaked in by appearing on 76% of ballots needing 75%. He is only the 2nd catcher ever to be inducted on his first appearance on the ballot, and is the 4th Puerto Rican to gain this honor whom joins Roberto Alomar, Orlando Cepeda & Roberto Clemente. During an interview after his induction, Pudge mentioned “Defense was my No. 1 game every day. I wanted to shut down running game, block balls. Most proud of my defense”.
Personal & Team Achievements
- Gold Gloves: 13 (most by any Catcher)
- AL MVP in 1999
- NL NLCS MVP in 2003
- All-Star Games: 14
- Silver Slugger: 7
- World Series Winner in 2003
- Most all-time games played as C – 2,427
- Most all-time runs scored as C – 1,354
- Most all-time hits as C – 2844
- Most all-time doubles as C – 572
- Most all-time plate appearances as C – 10,270
- Most all-time total zone runs as C – 167
- Most all-time defensive WAR as C – 28.7
- 3rd all-time WAR as C – 68.9
- 5th all-time RBI as C – 1332
- 7th all-time HR as C – 311
- 7th all-time SB as C – 127
Pudge joins Tim Raines, whom was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson but should have been inducted much sooner, and Jeff Bagwell. Besides being incredibly spoiled by having Pudge as Texas’s catcher for most of my baseball loving childhood, I have fond memories of the All-Star game’s home run derby and Bagwell’s squeeky gloves. His nickname should have been sawdust!
And to that point, it took a while for me to realize just how amazing Pudge was at what he did. As I mentioned, I grew up as a kid watching him play, and I did not know I was in for a treat every time I tuned into Tom Grieve & Mark Holtz on the TV broadcast or went live to a game in Arlington. It’s astonishing how Pudge changed the game of baseball behind the plate, and how much impact he had in between the lines in every game he played. Congratulations Pudge to you and your family. What a well deserved outcome for one of the games greatest behind the plate, and unquestionably the best defensive catcher of all time.