Ivan Rodriguez Rookie Cards
Rodriguez signed a contract with the Rangers in 1988, at the young age of 16. He excelled and developed quickly which led to his ML Debut in Chicago on June 20, 1991. Ivan Rodriguez has 7 official rookie cards and 1 rookie parallel card.
The Advanced Early Years of “Pudge”
Ranger Scout, Luis Rosa invited Rodriguez to a Ranger tryout because he was impressed with Ivan’s leadership qualities at the young age of 16.
He was nicknamed “Pudge” by a coach in the minor leagues. Rodriguez says, “I was small and cocky, like a strong small guy, and he called me Pudgy.” The nickname stuck.
As a kid, he played Little League Baseball with his rival Juan Gonzalez, which later became his teammate while playing for the Texas Rangers.
In 1991 he was such a dominating force with AA Minors Tulsa Drillers that he bypassed AAA baseball and debuted in the MLB that same year.
His baseball skill continued to develop at such an alarming rate that on June 20, 1991, he became the youngest player to catch an MLB game, he was 19 years old.
Ivan Rodriguez All-Time Leader
As a former catcher myself, one statistic that is really impressive to me is the CS (Caught Stealing).
Throughout his 21 year career, Mr. Rodriguez has caught 661 runners, that’s an average of just over 31 runners a season.
What this means is 46% of the runners that tried to steal a base were thrown out, this friend is most for a catcher all-time!
But wait there’s more!
- 14 All-Star Game selections – most for a catcher all-time
- 13 Gold Glove Awards – most for a catcher all-time
- 2,427 games behind the plate – most for a catcher all-time
- 1,354 Runs – do I really need to say it?
Hall of Famer Johnny Bench strongly endorses Pudge saying,
“He was the complete catcher, incredibly durable and intimidating behind the plate but also a very good hitter. It is remarkable he played at such a high level for so long. I am amazed at the number of games he caught, the 13 Gold Gloves he won. That’s truly impressive.”
Ivan’s Hall of Fame Induction
A good indicator of a player’s impact upon the game they represent is whether or not they’re inducted into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
This was the case with Ivan Rodriguez, earning 76% of the vote in his first year eligible (75% of the vote is needed).
When receiving the call of his induction Ivan was over-joyed and came to tears at the news. One could see that being inducted meant a lot to him.
Ivan is the 18th catcher inducted into the Hall of Fame all-time.
Career Stats & Accomplishments
Rodriguez had a 21-year career: 13 years with the Texas Rangers, 5 years with the Detroit Tigers, 2 years with the Nationals, and 1-year stints with the Marlins, Yankees, and the Astros.
Career Summary: Games 2,543 | Batting Avg .296 | Hits 2,844 | Home Runs 311 | RBI 1,332
- 14x All-Star
- 13x Gold Glove
- 7x Silver Slugger
- 1999 AL MVP
- 2003 NLCS MVP
- 2003 World Series Champion
- 2017 Hall of Fame Induction
Before we look at Ivan Rodriguez’s rookie cards I want to invite you to check out a three-part series I created pertaining to the past, present, and future of the rookie card. The first post can be viewed here History of the Rookie Card.
True Rookie Cards of Hall of Famer
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From the brand that was the king of the rookie cards in the early 90s. This 704 card set features 166 total rookie cards. One of them rookies was this Ivan Rodriguez rookie card.
This is one of my favorites simply because of the photo and Bowman’s card stock, it has a vintage look and feels to it.
The card back is the last year Bowman used cardboard stock as they switched over to white paper stock the following year. There are no parallels for this one.
This is a 56 card set distributed in factory set form exclusively to hobby shops.
The design mimics the 1991 Donruss except it has red borders instead of blue.
Speaking of the red borders, let’s talk about it. I love em, lots of eye appeal! Add the green and yellow banner and you have one colorful baseball card.
The card back gives us that classic Donruss design but these are given a minty green background. There are no parallels for this card.
This 132 card set is an update of its parent brand Fleer, which is also known as the “Yellow Monster” because of its enormous 720 cards and bright yellow borders.
The reason card manufacturers released these update sets was to give them an opportunity to capture players who were traded to other teams or to capture the rookies they may have missed.
So the Ivan Rodriguez rookie card was not inserted into the regular checklist of 720 cards Fleer issued earlier in the year but they included him here in the Update set.
Now, where are my sunglasses? There are no parallels for this card.
This 110 card set is identical to its parent 1991 Score set, with the only difference being the maroon-colored border instead of blue.
It features a fantastic, perfectly centered action photo of Ivan in a defensive action photo.
The card back gives collectors another color photo, minor league stats are a great feature, and commentary.
An overall great card when you think about it. There are no parallels for this card.
This 132 card set was distributed in factory set form and pack form.
The factory sets were printed on white card stock. Cards distributed in pack form were printed on gray card stock and it’s most noticeable on the back of the card.
However, the gray backs are harder to find but that is not reflected in the card values, perhaps because of its mass production.
The card front features an Ivan Rodriguez portrait photo in a very retro Rangers jersey. The card back featured here is the factory set white card stock.
This set also features Rodriguez’s only rookie parallel card, Topps Traded Tiffany a collector favorite for its glossy card stock.
This 120 card set was produced in shorter print runs than other updates in 1991.
A great action photo was captured here showing Ivan in the follow-through portion of his swing.
The card back is very bright and offers a player bio, and 1990 Minor League stats only.
This card has held its value over the years indicating it is a collector must-have. There are no parallels for this card.
I appreciate this premier issue of Fleer’s Ultra brand. This set offered a quality product, with quality photography, for a decent price, giving collectors the best of everything.
This 100 card extended set was offered to collectors very late into the season in an effort to highlight the 1991 Post Season.
Also, worthy of mention here is this is Rodriguez’s sixth rookie card included in an Update/Traded set.
There’s not much eye appeal but still an affordable rookie card of a Hall of Famer. There are no parallels for this card.
Happy Collecting Collectors,
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.