Magnificent 7: Rangers retire Pudge's jersey

Hall of Famer thrilled by reception, acknowledges Beltre amid many tributes

Magnificent 7: Rangers retire Pudge's jersey

ARLINGTON -- The Magnificent Seven was retired on Saturday in an encore performance worthy of Ivan Rodriguez's induction into the Hall of Fame two weeks ago.

Rodriguez's No. 7 jersey took its place on the façade of the upper deck in left field in ceremonies before the Rangers defeated the Astros, 8-3. Rodriguez's symbolic jersey was hung alongside Nolan Ryan, Johnny Oates and Jackie Robinson as the four numbers retired by the Rangers.

"It's amazing," Rodriguez said. "This is a dream come true just like a dream came true a couple of weeks ago."

Pudge joins the Rangers booth

Rangers' retired numbers

The difference was this ceremony was not held in a village in upstate New York but at Globe Life Park in Arlington, with 47,306 people in attendance. This time he did not share the stage with four other Hall of Fame inductees and their many fans.

This was Rodriguez returning to the ballpark where he established himself as one of the greatest catchers in the history of Major League Baseball, and he was surrounded by a sellout crowd who still revere him as one of the most popular players in Rangers history.

"The amazing thing is there were 48,000 at 6:30 already here," Rodriguez said. "That was good to see."

The Rangers' pregame batting practice was washed out by rain, which returned in the first inning once the game started, causing a 21-minute delay. But the bad weather stayed away for the entire hour of the ceremony, something Rodriguez noted while thanking the Lord.

The ceremonies included Rodriguez's family and select members of the Rangers Hall of Fame. The Rangers also brought back those who wore the No. 7 uniform before and after Rodriguez was here. David Murphy got the biggest ovation, but there was also Vic Harris, Lenny Randle, Lew Beasley, Leon Roberts, Glenn Brummer, Eric Young, J.P. Arencibia and Delino DeShields.

Once they were seated, Rodriguez was introduced, and he made the long walk from the Rangers' right-field bullpen to an extended standing ovation.

"That was a great moment," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez on thanking fans

Mayor Jeff Williams read a proclamation declaring it to be Ivan Pudge Rodriguez Day in Arlington, and National Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson unveiled the official plaque that had been brought from Cooperstown. Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Roberto Alomar helped with the unveiling, and the plaque may have received the second biggest ovation of the night.

Video tributes came from Dontrelle Willis, Mickey Tettleton, Jeff Bagwell, Will Clark, Johnny Bench, Michael Young, Ryan and George W. Bush. Renowned sports artist Vernon Wells Sr. presented Rodriguez with a No. 7 painting.

Former general manager Tom Grieve told the story of Rodriguez with the now-familiar anecdotes and then made it official. Rodriguez's No. 7 was retired and unveiled in left field.

Rodriguez began his acceptance speech by noting that it was a "great night" and then paid tribute to Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who recorded his 3,000th career hit on the same Sunday as the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Rodriguez pointed at the plaque, looked at Beltre and said, "This is waiting for you soon."

Pudge congratulates Beltre

Rodriguez thanked the fans, the Rangers, his teammates and his family, once again paying tribute to the many people who, as Grieve put it, "had a front-row seat" to a Hall of Fame career. There was one more extended standing ovation as Rodriguez rode off the field on the back of a pickup truck, another big day in a long and emotional summer.

Rodriguez is handling it with the same endurance and stamina that made him Major League Baseball's all-time leader in games caught.

"I'm good. ... I'm great," Rodriguez said. "I played golf at 8:30 this morning and I'm ready to play another 18. This has been great. I know there has been a lot of stuff and travel, but it's worth it. It's all part of the Hall of Fame. I'm enjoying every moment of it.

"I'm having a blast."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.