Cabrera continues on a Cooperstown path
“I was in the minor leagues (at Spring Training),” Cabrera said. “To go hit in the cage, I had to go between like 6:30 and 7 a.m. because all the big leaguers came into the cage. So when I walked into the cage (that early) and I’d see someone hitting already at like 6:45 – boom, boom, boom – it was Pudge Rodríguez.
“I have a good relationship with him because every year they give the Luis Aparicio Award to the best player from our country,” Cabrera said. “So we got the chance to meet him, to go over to his house, go to his city where he was raised and born. I’ve had the chance to meet him, had the opportunity to talk to him. It’s amazing. He’s a legend.”
Cabrera even had a brush with Cooperstown prior to 2003 when he played in eight games with the Utica Blue Sox – the Marlins’ Class A affiliate located about 45 minutes from the Hall of Fame – in 2000.
What would Cabrera tell the younger version of himself if he could talk to him today?
“I’ve got say ‘thank you’ to him because he never gave up, he always believed what he could do on the field,” Cabrera said. “His only goal was to play baseball, to be his best on the field, to try to grow as a man and as a baseball player. I have to appreciate everything he did.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum