“Dream big, and I know that those dreams do sometimes come true. Well, look at me,” declared the newest member among the greatest baseball players of all time enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
“I am here on this stage in this special place, this baseball heaven called Cooperstown, and my dream has become a reality.”
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was describing his remarkable journey through the National Game that led to his place on the podium delivering a message of inspiration to a worldwide audience.
A compelling parallel to his story is how so perfectly it reflects the place where it all began for him. That place is Arlington, Texas, and it too lives today as a dream fulfilled.
A dream that came true because the people of Arlington decided more than 45 years ago that they wanted their city to be among the few in the world where these things were possible.
Then they repeated their resolve twice more to ensure the legacy would grow to ever larger proportions.
The privilege of being one of the few places on the planet that carries the distinction of being a Major League city can’t be defined without a generous use of superlatives — sort of like those used when describing the achievements of the elite performers who play there.
Less than 30 minutes after Pudge delivered his inaugural address, another remarkable milestone was being celebrated back in the ballpark where Adrian Beltre had just gotten a hit in the game underway there.
It was not just another hit — it was the one that put him in the company of only a few other players who had done so 3,000 times in their careers.
Beltre described what that meant to him and his family, who, along with his teammates, poured onto the field in celebration, “What happened today after the hit has been the best moment in my life.”
To understand the magnitude of what was taking place on this momentous day we need to look at some numbers.
Pudge Rodriguez is among only 220 players now memorialized in the Hall of Fame out of nearly 19,000 who have played on a major league diamond in the almost 150-year history of professional baseball.
Beltre’s feat puts him with an even smaller number who have managed to safely hit a small round ball traveling from 60 feet away at speeds up to 100 mph with a round stick of wood.
Of those 19,000 major leaguers, only 30 others have done that 3,000 times or more.
But that’s not all. There are only three other players in history who have, in addition to their 3,000 hits, managed to amass 600 doubles and 450 home runs.
Beltre’s offensive production is also more than any of the three new members of the Hall of Fame who were installed there that day.
Obviously, one day he, too, will be handed a plaque depicting his likeness and his numbers to place on the wall in baseball’s shrine in Cooperstown.
The whole country witnessed this remarkable day in the game’s history. Right there in the center of it all is Arlington, where these stories unfolded in a spotlight as big as it gets.
But before the week ended, emerging from the site of the National Football League’s most impressive stadium across the street comes Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys whose Arlington home was established by the city’s voters.
Jerry’s entry in that sport’s Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, comes as only the 14th owner recognized for his contributions to professional football.
In years to come there will be different names and different world-class achievements with these two teams, and Arlington will host them all.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.