Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez played just the last two of his 21 major league seasons in the nation’s capital, but with his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the catcher’s now become the first former Washington Nationals’ player to enter the Hall.
In a press release tonight, Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner addressed Rodriguez’s election.
“Pudge was a truly special player to our family and our organization,” Lerner said.
“His impact on our club, from guiding Stephen Strasburg as a rookie to passing the torch and sharing his knowledge with Wilson Ramos; at the end of his outstanding career he came to us and epitomized what it meant to be a team player. We are forever grateful for his contributions. To know that one of the greatest two-way catchers ever to play the game will be the first former Nationals player inducted to the Hall of Fame is a great point of pride for us.”
Pudge Rodriguez put up a .255/.291/.341 line, 25 doubles and six home runs over 155 games and 558 plate appearances with the Nationals.
Overall, Rodriguez finished his 21-year career with a .296/.334/.464 line, a .991 fielding percentage and a 46% caught stealing percentage.
“Pudge was a great catcher,” Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker said today. “Playing against him, he shut down the running game. I mean, shut it down. That’s big -- you didn’t run at all. He was a great clutch hitter and an outstanding, durable catcher.”
Stephen Strasburg, who debuted in the majors in June of 2010 with Rodriguez behind the plate, shared his thoughts on his first major league catcher as well.
“Pudge exemplified a true professional,” Strasburg said.
“Competing on the same field with him is something I will truly never forget. Being his teammate made me appreciate the man he is even more.”
“Pudge broke into the Major Leagues in 1991,” Ryan Zimmerman added, “so when he came to our team practically 20 years later he’d played over 2,300 big league games.
“And yet, what stays with me most about Pudge was watching him work those two years, work he did before he even stepped on the field. It was honestly something I feel fortunate to have been able to be around and to see firsthand.”
“When I came to the Nationals in 2010,” Wilson Ramos said, “one of the best parts of the trade for me was that it meant that I would get to work with Pudge. Simply put, Pudge is my all-time favorite player. Growing up in Venezuela, he was the player I aspired to be. To play with him, and to learn from him at the Major League level, was nothing short of a dream come true for me. I am honored that I was able to call him a teammate and I am so happy for him today, as he is now forever a Hall of Famer.”
“When I got to Washington,” Jayson Werth said, “one of the people on the team I was most excited to share the clubhouse with was Pudge. Growing up, I was a catcher and I always admired his game the most. The hustle, the fire, the excitement. Most of all, the production.”
“This is a really proud day for me, to see Pudge elected to the Hall of Fame,” GM Mike Rizzo said.
“Pudge was the first true free agent I signed as General Manager, and he’ll always have a special place in my heart. I have one jersey framed and hung in my office. It’s his.
“That aside, if his career wasn’t capped with election to the Hall of Fame, I’d have been shocked. Between his outstanding offensive production and that throwing arm – bringing opposing team’s running games to a grinding halt – he exemplified what a two-way catcher should be. Even at the end of his career, when he was here in Washington, his work ethic and dedication to the game was unlike any other.
“To know that Pudge will be the first player with ‘Nationals’ listed as one of his teams on his Hall of Fame plaque is really special for me and I am so happy for him today.”