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Pudge joins Rangers greats in club Hall of Fame

Former catcher, 14-time All-Star, '99 AL MVP inducted during pregame ceremony

ARLINGTON -- Rain couldn't ruin Pudge's night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday.

After a 45-minute delay due to isolated thunderstorms, the clouds opened up to pave the way for Ivan Rodriguez's induction ceremony into the Rangers Hall of Fame.

"Thank God we have better weather right now," Rodriguez said during his speech.

Rodriguez became the 16th member inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame. He stood at the podium with his hands behind his back while soaking in a standing ovation from the fans and Rangers Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Jim Sundberg, Rusty Greer and John Wetteland, who took part in the ceremony. Sundberg began the ceremony honoring former Rangers owner Brad Corbett, who passed away in December. Members of the Corbett family were also on the field for the ceremony.

Players from both the Rangers and the Orioles dangled their arms along the dugout fences to witness the induction of Rodriguez, whom Ryan claimed as one of the greatest catchers of all time. The 13-time Gold Glove Award winner caught Ryan in just his second career Major League game.

"I knew then that Pudge was a good receiver; I certainly had no clue that he'd have the career that he did," Ryan said.

"The teammates that I played with, those guys gave me some tremendous advice when I came up, especially Nolan," Rodriguez said. "He mentioned that my second MLB game was with him. I was proud, but at the same time, I was so nervous. We ended up having a great game together, and he ended up winning the game. That was one of the best experiences of my career."

Even Rodriguez stood in amazement as each speaker ran through all of his accolades. The 14-time All-Star spent 13 of his 21 seasons with the Rangers. He was named the 1999 American League MVP with the club and earned six of his seven Silver Slugger Awards as a Ranger.

"I've been hearing all those awards, and I was saying to myself, 'Wow.' You don't believe all those things," Rodriguez said. "But I guess I did all that. I still don't get it. I guess I played for a long time."

Rodriguez played 2,427 career games, the most ever for a catcher. He was part of a Rangers team that won the AL West title in 1996, '98 and '99. He bounced around the league with four other teams, winning a World Series with the Marlins in 2003, before returning to the Rangers in '09.

"I think we can all agree on any Hall of Fame nomination he receives," Greer said. "... I believe he set the standard not for the Texas Rangers, but for all of baseball at the catcher position. I'm glad to have played with him, but I'm even more honored to call him a friend."

Rodriguez thanked the fans, his teammates and his family for the support he received. Rodriguez urged the fans to support Major League Baseball and the current crop of talent in the league.

"I have to thank all of you Texas Rangers fans for all the support you gave myself and my teammates when I played here for 13 years," Rodriguez said. "You guys are the greatest fans."

Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for
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