Ivan Rodriguez makes his final play at the plate with the Rangers


View Photo Gallery: “Pudge” Rodriguez waves to fans during his career victory lap.

Ivan Rodriguez toed the rubber, and set himself to deliver the first pitch ahead of Monday’s Texas Rangers-New York Yankees game at Rangers Ballpark.

But as the public address announcer noted “It doesn’t seem right.”

So instead, Rodriguez took his normal place behind home plate and fired one last strike to Michael Young at second base, capping an illustrious 21-game career in style.

The 14-time All-Star catcher announced his retirement Monday and celebrated with the team with whom he spent his first 12 seasons, including his 1999 MVP campaign.

“It’s a very hard day for me,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a great run. ... It’s been beautiful.”

The player affectionately nicknamed “Pudge” entered the stadium on the back of a Lexus convertible, sporting a Rangers polo shirt, jeans and sunglasses. He spoke at a podium surrounded by his wife and three children, including 19-year-old Dereck, an outfielder in the Twins farm system. Rodriguez made his debut with the Rangers in 1991 as a 19-year-old and went on to become one of the most accomplished backstops ever to play the game.

He caught a major league record 2,427 games, was a career .296 hitter with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBIs and a record 13 Gold Gloves for his position. Rodriguez also helped lead the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World Series title.

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