San Juan,, Puerto Rico — Students shouted “Ivan! Ivan! Ivan!” as Ivan Rodriguez visited his former elementary school on Friday, part of a three-day celebration Puerto Rico planned for the newly elected Hall of Fame catcher.
The 14-time All-Star waved as he posed for pictures in his hometown of Vega Baja.
“What a joy to return to my school,” the former Tiger said. “I’m very happy that you’re here with me on such a special day.”
Hundreds of people followed Pudge, some carrying pictures, baseballs and flyers for him to sign. They joined him as he received a blessing at a church and cheered as he accepted the keys of the town, located on the island’s north coast.
Rodriguez was a teenager when he debuted with the Rangers in 1991. He is the fourth native Puerto Rican in the Hall after Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar.
“He should be an example to all of you,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello told a group of students who had gathered to welcome Rodriguez.
Rodriguez announced he will pay for the cost to construct a roof for the basketball court at his former school. Retired since the 2011 season, he is a special assistant to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.