Typing "former Texas Ranger" in an article about Pudge Rodriguez continues to be painful for this fan.
I remember well the first time he threw a runner out trying to steal second. It was one of those moments when everyone watching knew a special player had just announced his presence with authority.
In one fluid motion, his quick feet making an instantaneous transition from crouch to throwing motion while he transferred the ball from his mitt to his hand without taking his eye off the target, Pudge threw a laser- beam strike to second well ahead of a shocked runner.
Pudge would become the face of a franchise and the cornerstone for the organization's only three division championship teams. No one doubted he would achieve greatness from his first throw in the big leagues in the summer of 1991.
Now it is 2009 and Pudge is in the twilight of a Hall-of-Fame career, playing for that other team down south. The only good thing about such a move is Rangers fans can see our favorite prodigal son twice this season.
I can only hope it's not his last.
For those of you who don't know, especially those going to the ballpark for any of these games with the Astros, Pudge is about to accomplish what John Hart believed impossible when the idiot let Pudge walk after the 2002 season.
Pudge is about to set the all-time mark for games caught in a career, passing the legendary Carlton Fisk.
This is a very special moment for Pudge, and it is only fitting that he pass Fisk in his home ballpark. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington saw more of the games caught by Pudge Rodriguez than any other park in the big leagues.
Now for what lies ahead for both Pudge and the Rangers. He has told the Dallas Morning News he wants to be a big-league coach when he's done playing and in this, the Rangers can and should give him the opportunity.
Pudge Rodriguez has been a mentor in his latter years and would be an outstanding coach for the young catchers making their way through the Rangers farm system. The Rangers don't have a place for Pudge as a player, but they could provide a coaching position as catching instructor for the big-league team.
Hopefully this is something to discuss in the distant future when he hangs up his spikes, so for now I will simply say welcome home Pudge and we'll keep the light on for when you come home for good.
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