Rodriguez, Alex

Rodriguez, Alex
▪ 2004

      The Most Valuable Player of Major League Baseball's American League for the 2003 season was Alex Rodriguez, the power-hitting shortstop for the Texas Rangers; the selection was a rarity in that his team finished last for the fourth consecutive year. There were several viable candidates for the 2003 AL honour—10 different men received at least one first-place vote—but “A-Rod” prevailed because of his stellar offensive statistics. He hit 47 home runs, registered 118 runs batted in, and had a batting average of .298. At season's end, however, there was some doubt whether Rodriguez would remain with the Rangers, who had acquired him as a free agent in December 2000. His 10-year $252 million contract still made the 28-year-old star the highest-paid performer in the major leagues, but during his tenure in Texas Rodriguez had indicated on occasion that he would accept a trade to a more competitive franchise. A possible trade to the Boston Red Sox fell through in December.

      Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez was born on July 27, 1975, in New York City, where his father operated a shoe store. The family moved to his father's native Dominican Republic when Alex was four, but they later relocated to Miami, Fla. His parents separated, and Rodriguez often recounted how his mother had worked two jobs to support him and his brother and sister. He was active in the local Boys and Girls Club, where at age nine he met a counselor who helped the youngster hone his baseball skills and served as a father figure. Rodriguez became an excellent ballplayer at Westminster Christian High School in Miami, and the Seattle Mariners made him the first overall selection in the 1993 amateur draft. He began his professional career in class A at Appleton, Wis., in 1994 and then graduated in midseason to the Mariners' farm club in Jacksonville, Fla. After only 17 games there, Rodriguez was brought up from Jacksonville to play for Seattle at age 18, but he did not produce immediately and was returned to the minor leagues. In 1996, however, he became the starting shortstop for the Mariners, and his career took off. He led the major leagues with a .358 batting average and hit 36 home runs that season.

      The Mariners enjoyed considerable success with Rodriguez as one of their stalwarts, but in 2000 Seattle chose not to outbid the Rangers. Texas owner Tom Hicks angered his peers with the extravagant terms of the contract that Rodriguez signed, but A-Rod hit 52 and 57 home runs, respectively, during his first two seasons in Texas (the latter a major league record for a shortstop).

      Off the field Rodriguez was active in community affairs in Miami and in Dallas, Texas, where he resided with his wife. He was founder (1998) of the Alex Rodriguez Foundation and a national spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Robert Verdi

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▪ American baseball player
in full  Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez , byname  A-Rod 
born July 27, 1975, New York City, N.Y., U.S.
 American professional baseball player, who was a noted power hitter. In 2007 he became the youngest player in major league history to hit 500 career home runs.

      Rodriguez and his family moved to his father's native Dominican Republic when Alex was four, but they later relocated to Miami, Fla. There he became an excellent ballplayer at Westminster Christian High School, and in 1993 the Seattle Mariners selected Rodriguez as the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. He made his debut with the Mariners at age 18, playing shortstop.

      Rodriguez's first successful season came in 1996, when he accumulated a league-best .358 batting average with 36 home runs and 123 runs batted in. Over the next six seasons with the team, he continued to produce outstanding offensive statistics, most notably in 1998, when he became the third player in league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. Before the 2001 season, when Rodriguez was a free agent, the Texas Rangers signed him to a 10-year $252 million contract, the richest contract ever given to an athlete at the time.

      With the Rangers, Rodriguez continued to have great offensive seasons. He won Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours in 2003 with a .298 batting average, 47 home runs, and 118 runs batted in. After that season, he was traded to the New York Yankees. In 2005 he posted a .321 batting average, with 48 home runs and 130 runs batted in, to win his second MVP title. At Yankee Stadium on Aug. 4, 2007, at age 32, Rodriguez hit his 500th career home run, becoming the youngest player to accomplish that feat. The 2007 season was Rodriguez's best yet—he had a .314 batting average, with 56 home runs and 154 runs batted in—and he was named MVP for the third time. In addition to his MVP and other awards (such as the Silver Slugger and the Gold Gloves), Rodriguez was also a fixture at All-Star Games (All-Star Game).

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Universalium. 2010.

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