Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez formally retired from major league baseball on Monday afternoon, an emotional day for the one-time Washington Nationals catcher. He was showered with cheers by the fans in Texas, where he spent the first 12 years of his stellar career, as he threw out his ceremonial “first pitch” from behind the plate in Arlington to former teammate Michael Young at second base.
And in Washington, the general manager who signed Rodriguez to the final major league contract of his career, watched from afar. Rodriguez’s final day as a professional baseball player was spent in a Nationals uniform, catching Stephen Strasburg on the season’s final day in Miami and his impact on the team is one that went beyond the numbers.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wanted to express that to Rodriguez personally so he sent the following letter, which was passed on to the media, to the catcher:
As I watched the announcement of your retirement yesterday, I felt a deep sense of honor at having shared in a portion of your illustrious career. Every Nationals player fortunate enough to have been your teammate will carry with him a perpetual pride and gratitude.
Your signed jersey, framed and hanging on my office wall, is a sentimental reflection of my personal esteem, as you were my first real free agent signing as a GM. It was a signing which proved to be not only productive, but one with an important lasting impact. The world knows you did a tremendous job behind the plate. But it is the effort you devoted in mentoring our young players, especially our catchers, which impacts our team today and will do so for years to come. Neither Stephen Strasburg nor I will ever forget how your sense of calm helped steady him during his legendary debut.
You are and will remain a special part of this team, and a shining star in my personal career. The Washington Nationals wish you a fulfilling and rewarding Next Chapter.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
With gratitude and respect,
Executive Vice President & General Manager