Fourteen-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez fought back tears on Monday (April 23) as he announced his retirement at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
It came nearly 21 years after the fan favourite known as "Pudge" made his major league debut as a 19-year-old with the Texas Rangers, before later playing with five other teams.
Surrounded by his wife and their three children, including his 19-year-old son who is a prospect in the Minnesota Twins organisation, Rodriguez's eyes glistened and he spoke slowly at first when announcing his retirement.
He thanked his parents and brother, who sat in the front row, for supporting him since he started playing baseball at the age of five in Puerto Rico.
Rodriguez said he planned to remain in baseball in some capacity. Team president Nolan Ryan said the Rangers have already had some preliminary discussions with him about what that might be.
Rodriguez caught a major league record 2,427 games, surpassing Carlton Fisk's record of 2,226 during a game for the Houston Astros three years ago at Rangers Ballpark.
It was later that season that "Pudge" returned briefly to the Rangers, the team he played for the first 12 of his 21 seasons.
Rodriguez hit .296 with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBIs in 2,543 games overall with Texas (1991-2002, 2009), Florida (2003), Detroit (2004-08), the Yankees (2008), Houston (2009), and Washington (2010-11).
His 13 Gold Gloves were the most for a catcher.
Rodriguez, who didn't take questions during the news conference, was part of the Rangers' first three AL (American League) West titles in a four-year span in the late 1990s.
He later appeared in two World Series, with the champion Florida Marlins in 2003 and Detroit in 2006.
Texas won its first three AL West titles in a four-year span in the late 1990s, but didn't win a play-off series then. Rodriguez hit .332 with 35 home runs and 113 RBIs in 1999, when he was the American League MVP.
The two-time defending AL champion Rangers have no immediate plans to retire his No. 7 jersey, but have discussed the possibility.
14-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez announces retirementWednesday, April 25 2012