One of the greatest Texas Rangers of all time is calling it a career. Even though he returned briefly in 2009, it still seems like forever ago that Pudge Rodriguez was gunning down base stealers and providing that spark in the Rangers’ lineup.
The Rangers plan to honor him at the Ballpark in Arlington before Monday’s game. Whether it’s on Monday or some time in the near future, Texas needs to do him the ultimate honor by hanging up his No. 7 jersey.
He is the best catcher in franchise history and probably the best player not named Michael Young. Pudge was a model teammate and also a fan favorite, even in the years after leaving the team.
Rodriguez's first 12 seasons in Texas saw him win 10 straight Gold Gloves, play in 10 straight All-Star Games, win six Silver Slugger Awards and the American League MVP.
His personal numbers aside, Pudge also represents a time in Rangers’ history when the team was trying to make its claim on the local sports scene. In an area dominated by football and the Dallas Cowboys, Rodriguez helped the Rangers bring October baseball to Texas for the first time.
In those three trips to the postseason, Texas ran in to the indestructible Yankees dynasty each time. It’s too bad he hasn’t been around these last few years and experienced the new thrills the organization has seen.
Unfortunately, like many players from his era, Pudge will always have the steroid cloud lingering over him. The most well known allegation came from his former teammate Jose Canseco, but at this time Pudge’s only real response to the steroid allegations is “Only God knows.”
Whether there is any truth to the rumors or hearsay, the simple fact is that his legacy in Texas is secure. He will enter the Rangers’ Hall of Fame soon, and should have his number retired alongside Nolan Ryan and Johnny Oates.