Aurelio Rodríguez

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Aurelio Rodríguez
Aurelio Rodríguez 1969.JPG
Rodríguez in 1969
Third baseman
Born: (1947-12-28)December 28, 1947
Cananea, Sonora, Mexico
Died: September 23, 2000(2000-09-23) (aged 52)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
September 1, 1967 for the California Angels
Last professional appearance
October 1, 1983 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .237
Home runs 124
Runs batted in 648
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Inducted 2002
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Rodríguez and the second or maternal family name is Ituarte.

Aurelio Rodríguez Ituarte, Jr. (December 28, 1947 – September 23, 2000), was a third baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the California Angels (1967–70), Washington Senators (1970), Detroit Tigers (1971–79), San Diego Padres (1980), New York Yankees (1980–81), Chicago White Sox (1982, 1983) and Baltimore Orioles (1983). He also played with the Obregon Yaquis and Cañeros de Los Mochis of the Mexican Pacific League. He batted and threw right-handed.

Biography[edit]

A native of Cananea, Mexico, Rodríguez broke into the major leagues with the Angels in 1967, and was traded to Washington early in the 1970 season. Rodríguez went to Detroit with shortstop Ed Brinkman and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan before the 1971 season in an eight-player trade that brought Denny McLain to the Senators along with Don Wert, Elliott Maddox, and Norm McRae.

Rodríguez was a model of consistency at third base for the Tigers during the 1970s. Though a below-average hitter, he was sure-handed and blessed with a strong, accurate arm. In 1976, he earned Gold Glove Award honors, becoming the first American League third baseman since 1959 to beat out Brooks Robinson. He also led all A.L. third basemen in fielding percentage in 1976 and 1978. Playing for the Yankees in the 1981 World Series, he hit .417 (5-for-12). His big-league career with seven teams ended in 1983.

Rodríguez was a .237 hitter with 124 home runs and 648 RBI in 2,017 games. His most productive season was 1970, when he posted career highs in home runs (19), RBI (83), runs (70) and stolen bases (15).

He played in the Mexican League as late as 1987, and coached in the minors for Cleveland. He returned to the Mexican League as a manager in 1995.

Death[edit]

On September 23, 2000, Rodriguez was visiting Detroit from his home in Mexico. While he was walking with an unidentified woman on Detroit's southwest side at 2 p.m., a car jumped the curb and ran over him. The driver of the car was driving with a suspended license and had been ordered not to drive due to a prior brain aneurysm; she was charged with felony manslaughter but received only probation. Rodriguez, who had to be pulled from under the car, was 52 at the time of his death. Thousands attended his funeral in Mexico, including the president of that country.

His tomb is located in the stadium Emilio Ibarra Almada, in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, and his cross stands atop that stadium.

Trivia[edit]

The picture on Aurelio Rodriguez's 1969 Topps baseball card is actually a photo of Angels' batboy Leonard Garcia.[1]

There have been three players in major league history named Aurelio (two of whom played for the Detroit Tigers), and all three were killed in car accidents between the ages of 44 and 53. See also Aurelio López and Aurelio Monteagudo.

Quotes[edit]

  • Sparky Anderson was Rodriguez's manager in 1979, the player's last year in Detroit. "He probably had as good a pair of hands on him as anybody, and a great arm -- the only two arms I've ever seen like that, Travis Fryman and him. This guy was a great third baseman", Anderson said.[2] WJR broadcaster Paul Carey, who during Aurelio's tenure with the Tigers was the radio partner of Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell, used to refer to Rodriguez' arm as a howitzer.
  • Every time the Tigers would play the Yankees, the late Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto would eventually get a chance to see a Rodriguez throw a "rising" fastball across the infield. "There's that arm," Scooter would say. "If I had an arm like that...!"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rare Topps Baseball Cards: Aurelio Rodriguez, 1969," Sports Illustrated website. Accessed Sept. 13, 2011.
  2. ^ Rodriguez entry, Historic Baseball. Accessed Sept. 13, 2011.

External links[edit]