The Baseball of Fame has three new fraternity members as it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez got the call they had been waiting for. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short of joining the stars in making it to the hallow hall.
Bagwell drew 86.2 percent and Raines got 86 percent. Rodriguez had 76 percent — he received four more votes than the necessary 332 of 442 (75 percent).
Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short. Both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens also fell short of making it to Cooperstown.
For Rodriguez, his induction comes after a career that started in the Major Leagues when he was just 19 years old. He played for the Texas Rangers (on two different tours, comprising the majority of his career), Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.
Rodríguez was awarded the AL MVP award in 1999. He is widely regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of all time.
Rodríguez won the World Series with the Marlins in 2003, and also played in the 2006 World Series while with the Tigers. He is the Major League career leader in putouts by catchers. On June 17, 2009, Rodríguez set an MLB record by catching his 2,227th game, passing Carlton Fisk. During his career, he had the best caught stealing percentage of any Major League catcher, at 45.68%.
Just last week, Hall of Famer Johnny Bench spoke with media outlets about Rodriguez’s chances of induction and said he believed the catcher was a first-ballot selection despite the fact he was embroiled in the steroid era and controversy over whether or not he used performance enhancing drugs to help him find great success during his career.
Rodríguez signed a contract with the Texas Rangers in July 1988, at the age of 16, and began his professional baseball career. Rodríguez made his professional debut in 1989 at the age of 17 as catcher for the Gastonia Rangers of the South Atlantic League. In his first game, he had three hits in three at-bats (3-for-3) against Spartanburg. Playing in the Florida State League in 1990, Rodríguez was selected the best catcher in the league and named to the All-Star team.
Before the 2003 season Rodríguez signed with the Florida Marlins. By then a major-league veteran of over a decade, he helped lead the young team to victory in the World Series. During the 2003 regular season, he set many Marlins single season records for a catcher, such as batting average, at .297, and runs batted in, at 85. On March 31, Rodríguez became the tenth Marlins player ever to hit a home run in the team's first game of the season. On April 8, he set a Marlins single game record by drawing five walks in a game against the New York Mets. He had a nine-game hitting streak from June 24 to July 2, during which he batted .500 with seven doubles, two triples, and four home runs. From June 24 to July 1, he drove in a run in eight consecutive games, another single season record for the Florida Marlins. In the post-season, he was named National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career.
He also closed out the National League Division Series by holding onto the ball during a dramatic game-ending collision at the plate with J. T. Snow in Game Four. He chose not to return to the Marlins following the 2003 season.