Ivan Rodriguez, the Pride of Puerto RicoPosted: Updated:
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Rodriguez is one of 317 people in the Hall, one of 220 players, and one of four from Puerto Rico. Pudge joins Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Roberto Alomar as the only Puerto Ricans in the Hall of Fame.
While that may seem like a small number, Rodriguez says that, for an island of 3,000,000 people, it's a sense of pride to have four Hall of Famers, and he fully expects more in the near future.
"We are hard workers, especially in the game of baseball," Rodriguez says. "If you go to Puerto Rico, everywhere you go you see kids playing baseball in every corner. Me saying that, and me being here, I think we're going to see more of that. There's more to come. I believe there is more to come. There are good players in the big leagues right now, superstar players in the big leagues right now."
Rodriguez says he hopes to see Edgar Martinez in the Hall of Fame soon, and expects that Carlos Beltran will have a shot at induction once he retires.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans made the 1,759 mile trip to Cooperstown over the weekend to see their country's favorite son earn baseball immortality. An opportunity they dare not miss.
"We are very, very proud of Pudge, one of the best catchers in baseball actually," says Raymond Rivera, Puerto Rico. "For the Puerto Rican people it's great. He's never been in trouble, you've never seen bad things said about Pudge Rodriguez. He's been playing the game the right way and we're very proud of him."
"For us, being a small country that's a small 100x35 mile island, it's a big deal. He represents us. He means a great deal to all of us," says Puerto Rican native George Rey currently living in Washington, DC. "It's really very exciting, and hence why you have such a big turnout of Puerto Rican community. They come from the island, they come from all parts of the country to see their fellow brother inducted into the Hall of Fame. It's the greatest honor you can achieve as a ballplayer. When you come from our country, I'm sure he'll mention it at some point, it's an honor for him but it's also for our country, it's for our people. It's a really big deal."
Rodriguez gave his Hall of Fame speech half in English, half in Spanish so as to directly address his fellow countrymen.