Iván Rodríguez – Puerto Rico’s Native Son

January is usually the quietest month on the baseball calendar. But for players who earn Hall of Fame election and their fans, it feels more like November, when a team wins the World Series: The celebration never stops.

On Jan. 18, Iván Rodríguez received a phone call letting him know he had been elected to the Hall of Fame. He becomes just the fourth Puerto Rican to earn a spot in Cooperstown, joining Roberto Alomar, Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda. Cuban-born Tony Pérez, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000, has also called the small island home for more than a half-century.

After a whirlwind trip to New York City to be formally introduced as one of the five members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Pudge returned home to receive a hero's welcome. Civic pride runs deep in Puerto Rico, and with one of their own entering Cooperstown for the first time in 18 years. His family, friends, school children, religious leaders, baseball fans and seemingly almost every fellow countryman and woman, spent five days cheering their hero, #7.

From the minute he stepped off of an airplane on January 24 until he left after a five days later, Pudge's election was celebrated nation-wide. Hall of Fame Traveling Photographer Jean Fruth accompanied Pudge for the entirety of his return home, capturing every salsa party, number retirement ceremony and speech at the Capital.

Newly elected Hall of Famer Iván Rodríguez returned home to Puerto Rico today. As he walked into the airport in San Juan, he was immediately welcomed by his extended family and embraced by his parents, Jose Rodríguez and Eva Torres, as well as his younger brother, Manuelito. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Iván Rodríguez (front) begins his celebratory return to Puerto Rico with his family, traveling across the island via bus. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Tony Pérez was the first Hall of Famer to greet Iván Rodríguez in person since his election the week before. The popular Big Red Machine-era first baseman who was inducted in 2000, signed a contract with the Reds in 1960 at age 17; 28 years later, Pudge signed with the Rangers as a 16-year old. The Cuban-born Pérez has called Puerto Rico home for the last half century. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pictured above, Pudge is interviewed on the TV set of the " Raymond y Sus Amigos," the leading television show in Puerto Rico. This is the first of many TV and radio interviews. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Iván Rodríguez (left) visits Puerto Rico's Governor, Ricardo "Ricky" Rosselló. The two are friends and played in the same youth baseball division as children, the Mickey Mantle League. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Iván Rodríguez practices his new signature since his election to the Hall of Fame, by inscribing "HOF 17" beneath his autograph. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge (pictured above) during an interview on the leading radio show in Puerto Rico, El Cisco de la Mega. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Iván Rodríguez visits patients at San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge visits "Capitolio de Puerto Rico" just outside of Old San Juan. He gave a speech thanking politicians, fans and former players for their support during his career. Roberto Clemente's widow, Vera, and son, Luis, as well as fellow Hall of Famer Tony Pérez, attended the ceremony. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge takes time to pose for a photo with players and their parents in the stands at a baseball clinic held in Caguas at Parque Yldefonso Solá Morales. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge Rodríguez receives a hero's welcome from owners, players, former players and the fans before a night game in Caguas, the team for whom he played in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The Criollos stadium was completely full, with excited fans on hand to see the 2017 Hall of Famer throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and have his #7 retired. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge throws out the first pitch at a Caguas Criollos game, the team for whom he played in the Puerto Rican Winter League. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Criolles de Caguas celebrate after winning the final game of the playoffs, making them the champions of the Liga de Beisbol Roberto Clemente. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

A student at Escuela José G. Padilla in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, learns about the different parts of a catcher's equipment as she works on her Pudge Rodriguez coloring sheet. The Hall of Fame catcher stopped by his alma mater to visit with students and announce that he would donate funds to put a new roof over the school's athletics area. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge tours Escuela José G. Padilla in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. During his visit he announced that he would be donating funds to put a new roof over the school's athletic area. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge is greeted by students at the Piaget Bilingual Academy in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. His brother Manuel is currently a student there. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge receives a blessing from a priest at his church in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, during mass. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge and his family tour San Juan, Puerto Rico by double-decker bus. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge signs autographs late into the evening after an event in his honor at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Iván Rodríguez's mother, Eva, prepares "Sopa de Camarones" for the family party at their home in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Carlos Delgado (right) shares a laugh with Pudge and friends during a family party held in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pudge's biggest fan is his dad, José, who has a shrine to his young son in his home. The room is filled with items from his son's career, and will soon include a Hall of Fame jersey, donated by Pudge. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

The Rodríguez's family and friends enjoy the warm weather of Puerto Rico at a party outside of their Vega Baja home. (Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

To the top
To the top