My favorite players all share one thing in common: they are all great defensive players. Pudge Rodriguez is one of those, one of the best defensive catchers of all time. He came up with the Rangers in 1991 and went on to to become a 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner (MLB record for catchers), 7-time Silver Slugger, and the AL MVP in 1999 on his way to Cooperstown.
Pudge picked of an MLB record 88 runners in his career, and I was there for one of them in 1998. In the third inning against the Angels, he picked off Phil Nevin at first base. Rodriguez also had an RBI infield single in the first. I was so excited to see one of my heroes have such a good game.
Pudge signed with the Marlins in 2003 and went on to win the World Series that season. Then he went to the Tigers in 2004 and had another trip to the World Series in 2006.
Pudge was traded at the deadline in 2008 from the Tigers to the Yankees. He signed with the Astros before the 2009 season, then was traded back to the Rangers in August of that year. He then signed with the Nationals and finished his career with two years in Washington.
I have 39 cards in my Pudge collection, all of them from the Topps Flagship, Traded, or Update sets. These include All-Star, Gold Glove, and Postseason Highlights.
Most of my favorites show him in his catcher’s gear. I’m a sucker when it comes to cards showing catchers in their gear. I was a catcher when I was in Little League and if I played again I would be behind the plate.
Number one on my list is the 1994 Topps card. It shows him right after he released a throw to second base, with his mask falling to the ground. It highlights his legendary throwing ability.
His 2002 Gold Glove card shows him ready to receive a pitch. He’s wearing the blue Rangers uniform and gear with red trim. I like that color combination better than the all red that the Rangers wore for a while.
His 2009 Update card is excellent. Pudge is shown making a play at the plate with a runner crashing into him. It looks like the runner is getting the raw end of this deal.
Finally, even though there are several more that show Pudge in his gear, his 2005 card shows him standing on second, and it looks like he’s pointing to the scoreboard and showing the Tigers that they are either not out of it yet, or that they have the lead.
I have decided to add Fleer and Donruss to my player collections, so I went from having 100% of the Pudge cards, to having just 57%. Oh well, that’s what happens when you’re a collector, right?