Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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If any of you know me at all, it is pretty safe to say that I am a fan of the underdog. Boise State, March Madness or even Kent State baseball, you give me someone that shouldn’t be there and I will take them every day of the week. In a sports world that is currently being captivated by a former football player who punched his wife unconscious, I decided to take my attention elsewhere and embrace a man who hasn’t lost his way and is finally living his dream when it seemed almost impossible.
This past Sunday after the Texas Rangers sent Yu Darvish to the 60-Day Disabled List, they called up an infielder by the name of Guilder Rodriguez. To most people, Rodriguez is just another minor league call-up in September to earn some big league playing time, but that is by far not the entire story. Rodriguez, a native of Venezuela, has spent the last 13 seasons in the minor leagues and at the age of 31 has finally earned his opportunity to play in the majors. Between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, Rodriguez has only batted .260 in 2014, but it was much more than his batting average that got the seasoned veteran called up for his rookie season.
Throughout his career in the minors, Rodriguez has been credited with helping the development of some of baseball’s best young prospects; Martin Perez of the Texas Rangers is a key example. Rodriguez has turned into a player-coach of sorts here recently for the Round Rock Express and for a team like the Texas Rangers that may squeak out 60 wins this season, they could use another strong baseball mind in the clubhouse. There is no doubt that Rodriguez’s tools to the game helped him earn his shot at the show, but with everything he has done over the years, it was something else that truly got him his call-up.
I’ll never forget during my junior year at Otterbein when I was having dinner with a member of the Otterbein baseball team. We were talking baseball and how much fun it would be just to play baseball everyday, even in the minor leagues. Neither of us ever became professional baseball players (especially me), but just the idea of playing baseball everyday would’ve been a dream come true and that is exactly what Rodriguez has done over the last 13 years.
Not many baseball players today would continue to play in the minors for 10-plus years if there was no guarantee of a chance in the big leagues. That is what makes Guilder Rodriguez different than the rest. Rodriguez has a passion for the game and shows up to work every day because he simply loves baseball. When Rodriguez first heard the good news, he cried. A 31-year-old man who had fought tooth and nail ever since joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization back in 2002 finally got his shot to throw on that big league uniform and it drove him to tears of happiness. Say all you want that sports are games of numbers, but in the game of baseball where there is becoming a greater lack of “give a damn”, it was Rodriguez’s love and passion for the game that truly made his dream become a reality.
In Tuesday night’s game against the Angels, Rodriguez was in the starting line-up batting ninth and playing second base. Rodriguez may have gone 0 for 3 with a walk, but a life-long journey finally came to fruition for the rookie in his 13th season. In a world that has been full of disheartening sports stories this week, it is nice to know that Guilder Rodriguez never gave up on his dream and that a little passion and love for what you do will always pay off in the end. Congratulations Guilder, you’ve finally made it!