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Pudge honored at ¡Fiesta Tigres!

By Federico Martínez, Special to La Prensa

Thousands of Detroit Tiger fans showed up to honor former Tiger Ivan “Pudge” Rodríguez during the franchise’s ninth annual ¡Fiesta  Tigres! pre-game celebration at Comerica Park this past weekend. But it was a pair of Martínez’s and a Cabrera that led the team to an 11-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

A three-run homer by Victor Martínez and solo shots from J.D. Martínez and Miguel Cabrera helped Detroit put away the Rockies.

It all seemed fitting on a night when the Tiger’s franchise was inviting fans to recognize and honor the contributions of Latino players to the game of baseball on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014.

To celebrate the occasion Tiger players took the field wearing a special alternate uniform with the word “Tigres,” the Spanish translation for “Tigers” on their chest.

“It’s very rare that Major League Baseball allows a team to do something like that,” said Kate Ready, a club spokeswoman said. “It’s only the second time since 1960 that the club has worn anything other than the Olde English D on their home uniform.”

For this year’s celebration, the Tigers chose to highlight Rodríguez’s contributions to the franchise. Rodríguez joined the Tigers in 2004 as a free agent and is credited for playing a major role in helping to turnaround a Detroit franchise that in 2003 lost an American League-record 119 games and leading them to the World Series in 2006.

 During the pregame ceremony pitcher Justin Verlander presented Rodríguez with a framed Tigers jersey bearing his name and old No. 7, while Manuel Cabrera unveiled a portrait of him as a Tiger, bat in hands.

Longtime Tigers fan Leo Martínez of Toledo, said Rodríguez, who was known for his hustle, skills as a catcher and role as a team leader made him a good choice for this year’s special recognition.

“Pudge, he was the kind of player who was very consistent, he could steal bases; if he was better with the bat he’d probably still be with the Tigers,” said Leo Martínez.

Martínez, 59, said the Tigers have had many talented Latino players over the years, including his favorite relief pitcher Aurelio López, whose blazing fastball played a pivotal role in helping the team win the World Series in 1984. Lopez shared the bullpen with other stellar relief pitchers, including Willie Hernández and Juan Berengüer.

Raúl Arriaga, 49 and his son Dominic, 11, of Britton, Mich. frequently attend Tiger and  Toledo Mud Hen games. Their favorite current player is Miguel Cabrera.

“He not only switched from playing first base to third in order for the Tigers to bring in Prince Fielder; which demonstrates an unselfish trait to help out the team,” Raúl Arriaga said. “We also like his hitting style in being able to see the whole field and not just one dimensional. But we  enjoy watching all the Tiger players.”

Joe Austin, 55, of Muskegon, Mich., said his favorite Tiger players included the hard-throwing López, whose nick-name was “Señor Smoke” and Aurelio Rodríguez, a Gold Glove Award winner who played third base for the team in the early 1970s.

“Señor Smoke,’ man he threw that ball hard,” recalled Austin, who did not attend the Tiger’s game against Colorado. “He was quite a character. You just had to keep him away from the buffet table; I think he and I must be related.”

This past Saturday’s pre-game festivities also featured live entertainment including traditional Mexican Ballet Folkorico Moyocoyani Izel and Raices Mexicanas de Detroit dance groups, Samba 1 Brazilian Dance Group from Chicago, salsa and merengüe band Orquesta Sensacional, Cuban Jazz by Tumbao Bravo, premiere guitar duo - Los Primos, DJ Tony Toca spinning the latest reggeton and bachata hits, Mariachi Gallos de Oro and Mariachi Juvenil.

The first 15,000 fans, 21-years and older who arrived to the game received a free Ivan “Pudge” Rodríguez figurine, courtesy of Miller Lite.

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/05/14 21:25:10 -0700.




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