1. They call me Pudge
During minor league camp in Port Charlotte, Fla., in 1989, instructor Chino Cadahia pinned Ivan Rodriguez with the nickname “Pudge” because of he was only 5-foot-8 and a little hefty.
2. Born and raised
Pudge was born on Nov. 27, 1971, and raised in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. He has one brother, Tito, who is two years older.
3. A steal at 16
Rangers scout Manny Batista was the first person to talk to Pudge’s father Jose Rodriguez. Sandy Johnson, the Rangers scouting director at the time, signed Pudge for $21,500 on July 27, 1988.
4. Hardest thrower ever?
Pudge caught hard throwers throughout his career, including, of course, Nolan Ryan. But he says Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya, who was regularly clocked over 100 mph, was the hardest thrower he caught in his career.
5. Don’t tread on Pudge
He threw out two or more base runners trying to steal in 87 games, including five games when he threw out three base runners. In two games (one in Arlington and one in Kansas City) against the Royals in a five-day span in August 1992, he threw out six base runners combined.
6. 661 thrown out, but ...
He threw out a record 661 base runners, but 2017 Hall of Fame classmates Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines were a combined 5 for 5 in stolen bases against him. Raines was 4 for 4.
7. Pick-off Pudge
He picked off 88 base runners, a major league record. Remember, these aren’t guys trying to steal a base. These are guys just standing off a base, not trying to steal.
8. From father to son
Pudge’s son Dereck was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by the Minnesota Twins.
9. Two-sport athlete
Pudge was a strong volleyball player as a kid. He didn’t stick with basketball long because of height issues.
10. First came pitching
He was a pitcher and third baseman when he first started playing at 7. Pudge reports in his new book “They Call Me Pudge” that he threw seven no-hitters, including two in one day in Little League. He threw hard but was wild and once loaded the bases after hitting three consecutive batters. By the time he was 13 or 14, he had moved to catcher for good.