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.