Is there any better ballpark promotion than the bobblehead? The answer is no. This is part one of a six-part series, giving you the breakdown of what bobbling wonders will be at the stadium this spring and summer. Each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness. Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better. Let’s start it off with the AL West!
Seattle Mariners (Each giveaway is 20,000 fans)
Saturday, May 31st, Robinson Cano: You knew the Mariners had to give a bobblehead to their new superstar player. This is (surprisingly) the first bobblehead giveaway for Cano in MLB. ***
Thursday, June 12th, Macklemore: I’m not a huge Macklemore fan, but I love the Mariners creativity for the local musical star. I’m not sure what it looks like yet, but at least they have Macklemore in a M’s jersey to go off of. **** 1/2
Saturday, July 12th, Hisashi Iwakuma: I’m a sucker for Iwakuma and would rate this higher for my collection. In the overall scheme, nothing too spectacular. **
Saturday, August 9th, Lou Pinella Mariners Hall of Fame: Lou Pinella is one of my favorite managers of all-time and I’m glad they’re comboing up a bobblehead with his induction day. Should be a fun day in Seattle. I truly hope it involves him kicking his cap. *** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Felix Hernandez: Another year, another Felix Hernandez bobblehead from the Mariners. Wish they had made a Jesus Montero bobble belly instead. **1/2
Total: 15 1/2 stars
Texas Rangers (Each giveaway is for 15,000 fans)
Saturday, April 19th, Yu Darvish Strikeout King: Standard fare, the teams best player in a standard pitching bobblehead. Would’ve been fun if they had the “strikeout king” have a crown with a K on it. **1/2
Sunday, May 18th, Prince Fielder: Another pretty standard bobblehead, but with the team’s best and newest hitter. **1/2
Saturday, July 12th, Eric Nadel: Now we’re having some fun! Nadel has been with the Rangers since 1979 as their broadcaster and is the winner of the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award. And now, his own bobblehead too. Love it! ****
Tuesday, August 12th, Pudge Rodriguez Gold Glove: I’ve got nothing against this one honoring one of the best players in Rangers history. I also like that they’re honoring his defense. There isn’t a picture of it yet, but it get a bonus 1/2 star if his glove is actually gold. ***
Thursday, September 4th, Shin Soo-Choo: Choo is also a new Rangers acquisition, but he’s not quite on Darvish or Fielder’s level. It’s going to be tough for the Rangers to top the greatest Shin Soo-Choo bobblehead of all-time. **
Total: 14 stars
Houston Astros (10,000 fans each giveaway)
Saturday, April 26th, Jason Castro All-Star: A nice honor to add on to Jason Castro’s all-star to give him his own bobblehead. He’s not a major star though, yet. **
Friday, August 1st, Lance Berkman: A great player in Astros history gets honored, because there aren’t many players on this current roster to give a bobblehead to. ** 1/2
Sunday, August 3rd, Roy Oswalt: See, Lance Berkman. I do like that they made these the same weekend for fans. ** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Nolan and Reid Ryan: Not many executives get bobbleheads and I would go out on a limb to say that this is the first double executive bobblehead in MLB history. I want to rate it higher, but only 10,000? Then again, the Astros attendance isn’t the strongest. ****
Total: 11 stars
Oakland Athletics (various amounts of fans)
Saturday, April 19th, Josh Donaldson Diorama: First off, kudos to the Athletics for increasing their giveaways from 10,000 to 20,000 for Donaldson and 15,000 for the Catfish Hunter one. Donaldson was the breakout star for the A’s in 2013 and the diorama is a nice little bonus. ***
Saturday, May 31st-Catfish Hunter: Athletics have had a Hunter bobblehead before, but that was in 2002. Here’s to hoping that they’ll add an Eric Sogard bobblehead giveaway if he wins the #FaceOfMLB contest. A’s fans love that guy. ** 1/2
Total: 5 1/2 stars
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (amount of giveaway, not available)
Tuesday, April 1st, Mike Trout: One of the games brightest stars gets his second bobblehead in two years. This one doesn’t top last year’s edition, though. Why is he not wearing a cap? *** 1/2
Friday, May 2nd, Josh Hamilton: If I’m an Angels fan and Hamilton’s 2014 starts off like his 2013, am I really going to want this bobblehead? **
Total: 5 1/2 stars
What’s your favorite bobblehead set in the AL West? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
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.
I write this with a heavy heart. As a sports fan you realize that every great athlete must hang up his cleats at some point. That fact does not help with the shock of your childhood heroes no longer donning your favorite teams jersey.
Before Monday nights home game against the New York Yankees (April, 23), Texas Rangers legend and one of my heroes will be walking onto the field for the last time as a Major Leaguer.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez will wear his Rangers jersey for the last time as he will officially announce his retirement before the game. He will retire arguably the greatest catcher in the history of the game. His name will and should be mentioned with the greats, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, and Carlton Fisk.
In his prime there has never been a catcher that possessed the skills this man had. He could hit for power, hit for average, he had a cannon for an arm and he was not a slow lumbering catcher either.
He was the first player I ever saw hit a home run over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. With a golf shot even Jack Nicklaus would marvel at, he got just enough lift to park the ball over the wall. Since then I have seen many hit up there but in that moment I became a huge Pudge fan. It was a scene that I will never forget.
Now the Ranger with the second most hits in franchise history (Michael Young broke the record in 2010 the season after Pudge set it) will sign a contract with the Rangers so he can leave the game wear he started 21 seasons ago. His first major league game came in 1991, he would go on to anchor the Rangers offense along with childhood teammate and foe, Juan Gonzalez.
Among the memories I will have of him was going to games and seeing players still try and test his arm. When the dust cleared many players would be taking the long walk back to the dugout as Chuck Morgan cues Queen’s-Another One Bites the Dust over the PA system.
Among the accomplishments he will most be remembered for was not the rocket arm he possessed, it was rumored he could throw 96 mph off the mound, but instead the perfect game of Kenny Rogers that he caught during the 1994 season.
As a kid I always wanted to see him close out a game just to see if the rumors were true. If they tried Jose Canseco as a pitcher why not give Pudge a shot?
He won his one and only World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003, a year after leaving the Rangers. When I heard he wanted to return to Texas one last time this past offseason, I was taken back and desperately wanted him behind the plate. It was not in the cards however with two catchers already on the roster.
He retires with such catching records as: games caught (2,427) hits (2,844) and runs (1,354). When his name is on the ballot for the first time in 2017 he should be immediately voted in. Even with the accusations of steroid use what he was able to do for so long the man should be honored by having his bust enshrined in the Hall of Fame with a Rangers hat on.
In a list of the greatest Rangers ever Pudge is certainly near the top. 10 Gold Gloves (13 total), 1999 AL MVP and he threw out an impressive 45.7% of would be base-stealers.
The Rangers have only retired three numbers, #34 Nolan Ryan, #42 Jackie Robinson, #26 the late Johnny Oates (who managed Rodriguez). Pudge should be the next Ranger to have his name and number (#7) forever adorned in left field.
Thank you, Pudge.