Ivan Rodriguez celebrated the 20th anniversary of his big-league debut Monday, but the Nationals had the day off and then last night he sat on the bench as the man who’s replaced him as the starting catcher, 23-year-old Wilson Ramos, delivered a game-winning homer.
Despite that lack of drama, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote a nice article about the future Hall of Famer’s first 20 years in the majors, beginning with his first game on June 20, 1991.
Rodriguez was still a teenager then and the Rangers were playing the White Sox, whose catcher was 43-year-old Carlton Fisk, who in addition to being a Hall of Famer is also the original “Pudge.”
At this point Rodriguez is one of the worst hitters in the league, but he’s hit more career home runs as a catcher than anyone in baseball history and is the first catcher to top 2,500 career hits, let alone make a serious run at 3,000. He needs 161 more to get there, which is a tall order for a 39-year-old hitting just .224 while playing a couple times per week.
Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres was born on December 13, 1996. That year, Bartolo Colon (who turns 45 years old on Thursday) was wrapping up a season he spent with Double-A Canton-Akron and Triple-A Buffalo. He would debut in the majors the following April.
In a clash of generations, the 21-year-old Torres and Colon squared off on Monday as the Yankees visited the Rangers. Torres won the battle twice, drilling a two-run home run off of Colon in the second inning and a solo shot off of Colon in the fourth. Colon wound up giving up six runs in total on eight hits (including four homers) and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
Here is video of the first homer Torres hit:
Torres is the second-youngest Yankee in club history with a multi-homer game. Mickey Mantle was 20 years and 296 days old when he went yard twice on August 11, 1952. Torres is 21 years, 159 days old. Joe DiMaggio was 21-212 when he hit two on June 24, 1936.
So much for respecting one’s elders. We’re currently seeing a youth movement in baseball. 19-year-old Juan Soto hit his first major league homer on Monday against the Padres. 20-year-olds Ronald Acuña and Mike Soroka debuted for the Braves earlier this year. Could 19-year-old Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. join them soon?