COOPERSTOWN, New York (AP) – Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Before he started, Rodriguez received a standing ovation from hundreds of fans, many wearing red-and-white jerseys with Puerto Rico emblazoned on the front, and proceeded to give half his speech in Spanish.
“This is such an incredible honor for me,” Rodriguez said. “A little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream. Never let them take your dream away from you.”
After speaking in Spanish, he went back and repeated what he said in English, concentrating on a message to youth.
“You have the right to dream,” he said. “Everything in life is possible. I speak from experience.”
The 45-year-old Rodriguez holds the major league records for games caught (2,427) and putouts by a catcher (12,376). He hit 311 homers and batted .296 in his career. He’s also only the second catcher elected on the first ballot, following in the footsteps of his childhood idol, former Cincinnati Reds star Johnny Bench.
In 21 seasons spent mostly with the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, won a record 13 Gold Gloves and took home seven Silver Slugger awards.
Rodriguez closed by telling kids to “respect the game, love this game. Sometimes dreams come true. Look at me. I am here on this stage, this special place, and my dream has become a reality. God bless baseball.”
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