Jim Sundberg’s last season of Major League Baseball overlapped with the first season of pro ball for Ivan Rodriguez. Sundberg turned 38 years old during that season, the 16th season for the Rangers Hall of Fame catcher. Rodriguez was 17 years old and played for Class A Gastonia in the South Atlantic League, and his Hall of Fame-caliber career was just beginning.
“My last year in ’89, I was hearing about a guy we had in the minor leagues that was really good and was going to be a really good one,” Sundberg recalled when he was a guest Saturday on Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.
When Rodriguez made his Major League debut in 1991, Sundberg was working as an analyst on the Rangers TV broadcasts.
“He had quick feet. He needs them to block. He needs them to throw. He had a strong, accurate arm. And, plus he could hit. He was a good inside-out guy. He could hit the ball to right field. Just a tremendous player,” Sundberg said, and this is a six-time Gold Glove catcher talking about a 13-time winner of the award.
Sundberg also talked about how Rodriguez ranks among the top all-time catchers, and he included a Yankees catcher in this category and not the one you are probably thinking of. He also discussed a future role for Rodriguez with the Rangers.
For those who heard the original broadcast of this interview, you may recall that the information on Rodriguez closed the interview. Through the magic of editing, the podcast is inverted. It begins with Rodriguez talk followed by Sundberg’s analysis of current Rangers catchers Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli as well as what Sundberg would like if he were catching the current Rangers' starting rotation. Listen to the podcast.