I know that this is late and almost not worth mentioning at this point but I wanted to give Mondays game its due justice.
Pudge Rodriguez retired at the Rangers game on Monday to a sell-out crowd. As was to be expected the event took over greater importance on the day than the game did, at least for me.
Tom Grieve the Rangers color commentator on their TV broadcasts was the GM of the Rangers in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He was the man responsible for bringing up a young catcher by the name of Ivan Rodriguez. He was first to the podium to address the fans in attendance. He recounted the day the Rangers signed Pudge, at 16, up until his call up in 1991.
Next up was Hall of Fame pitcher and Rangers President Nolan Ryan. His stories of Pudge included and intersquad in which Pudge took Nolan deep. His next at-bat however ended with Ryan conceding first base by hitting Pudge with a pitch. The most important thing he said though was inaudible for most of it.
“Pudge you had a great career, and we look forward to having you join the organization……..” That was all I was able to make out as the crowd erupted into the loudest cheering I have ever heard in that ballpark.
I looked around the stadium in that moment and seeing a few grown men wiping their faces was unreal. (I never saw any tears though)
Now Pudge walks to the podium who accompanied by his family on the field, gave a very heartfelt speech. The line I remember best I actually heard during his press conference earlier in the day.
“Walking out of the white lines for the last time but I’m always going to be in baseball. I’ll be in baseball my whole life.”
I know the historical significance is not as great but to me his speech belongs in the conversation with Lou Gehrig’s speech. (Maybe I’m just biased)
The first pitch was the greatest moment in the ceremony. As arguably the two greatest players to ever play for the organization walked onto the field; Pudge to throw the first pitch and Michael Young to catch it. It was a little unorthodox but in the words of Chuck Morgan: “It just doesn’t seem right, does it?”
Pudge took his spot that he took in that stadium for 8 seasons. Young ran out to man the throw down from the plate. Like so many other throws I saw him make, right to the bag, he didn’t let me down. (Never bounce a first pitch, is the unwritten baseball law.)
The day was not lost with the Rangers defeat by the Yankees. That is one of those Pudge moments that I will never forget to go along with so many other plays that I saw.
I consider myself lucky to have seen the way that man played the game and hope he stays with the Rangers organization for a long time.