Ivan Rodriguez called it a difficult day.
The 1999 American League MVP, 14-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glove winner announced his retirement from professional baseball on Monday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark.
“Today is a very hard day for me,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a great, great run. Twenty-one years have been beautiful.”
Rodriguez began his illustrious career with Texas, signing as a 16-year-old on July 27, 1988. The GM at the time, Rangers television analyst Tom Grieve, spoke at the ceremony. So did team president and CEO Nolan Ryan, who was teammates with Rodriguez in the early 1990s.
Rodriguez made his big league debut with the Rangers as a 19-year-old in 1991, and played with them until 2002. His best season was 1999 when he hit .332 with 35 home runs and 113 RBIs, helping the Rangers win their third AL West crown in four years.
In 2003, Rodriguez was part of the Miami Marlins team that won the World Series. He went to Detroit after that and then had stops in New York, Houston, Texas and Washington.
Rodriguez had several memorable moments with the Rangers. He caught Kenny Rogers’ perfect game against the Los Angeles Angels on July 28, 1994. He scored the Rangers’ first postseason run in Game 1 of the ALDS against the New York Yankees on Oct. 1, 1996. Rodriguez set a franchise-record with nine RBIs in a game against Seattle on April 13, 1999, a record that still stands today.
The Rangers acquired Rodriguez in August of 2009. In his first game back, on Aug. 19, he went 3 for 4 with an RBI double.
“I want to thank the fans here in Texas,” Rodriguez said. “I just want to say thanks to all the organizations I played for."
Several former teammates attended the ceremony, including Rafael Palmeiro. Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras, was also on hand.