Pudge looking forward to induction into HOF

Heralded catcher played 13 seasons with Rangers

Pudge looking forward to induction into HOF

ARLINGTON -- Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is just days away from the crowning moment of his Major League Baseball career.

On Sunday, Rodriguez will be standing on a podium in the upstate New York village of Cooperstown. Behind him will be seated some of the greatest players in the history of the game and, on that afternoon, Rodriguez will join them as a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

"I'm really excited and basically anxious," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, I'm not going to lie to you, I will be a little nervous. The days are getting closer. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a great weekend."

Rodriguez was a first-ballot selection by the Baseball Writers' Association of America after a 21-year career in which he was a 14-time All-Star, a 13-time Gold Glove winner and won the 1999 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Rodriguez will go in as a Texas Ranger after playing 13 seasons with the team that originally signed him as a 16-year-old out of Puerto Rico. But he also won a World Series with the Marlins, played in another with the Tigers and had brief stops with the Astros, Yankees and Nationals before retiring after the 2011 season.

Rodriguez will be inducted along with Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, Expos outfielder Tim Raines, longtime Royals and Braves general manager John Schuerholz and former Commissioner Bud Selig.

MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

"I'm looking forward to everything," Rodriguez said. "This happens only one time, so I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. I talked to some of the Hall of Famers like Roberto Alomar and Orlando Cepeda, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, they all told me there is a lot going on but at the same time enjoy it. It's going to be a lot of fun."

A number of current and former Rangers players and executives are planning to be there including owners Ray Davis and Neil Leibman. The former executives include Tom Schieffer, Doug Melvin, Tom Grieve, Dan O'Brien, Sandy Johnson and Omar Minaya, along with former coaches Rudy Jaramillo and Bobby Jones.

Also attending is Gloria Oates, the widow of former Rangers manager Johnny Oates. He led Texas to division titles in 1996 and 1998-99 before passing away in 2004. Rodriguez had the best seasons of his career while playing for Oates.

"I have so much respect for Johnny Oates, having her there is going to be a very special moment," Rodriguez said.

Among the former teammates who are expected to attend are Tim Crabtree, Benji Gil, Jose Guzman, Geno Petralli, Darren Oliver and Ruben Sierra, as well as former Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Hall of Fame golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez will also attend. Chi Chi and Pudge are not related, but they are both from Puerto Rico and have been close friends for many years.

"We have a great relationship," Pudge said. "He is a Hall of Fame golfer, but if you sit down and talk baseball with Chi Chi, he knows baseball. He can answer every question from A to Z about baseball. He knows what happened in the past and what's going on right now. He has been a big part of my career from day one."

The Rangers will also honor Rodriguez by retiring his No. 7 jersey before their Aug. 12 game against the Astros.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.