The Puerto Rico Equality Commission includes three Republicans and three Democrats… and one Independent, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, a Texas Ranger who is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place on July 30 in Cooperstown, New York.
Rodriguez, who was born in Vega Baja, is only the second catcher to achieve this honor in his first year of eligibility. With 13 Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger awards, he was a 14-time All-Star and the 1999 AL MVP. Being a member of the Hall of Fame is a great honor.
Being a member of the Puerto Rico Equality Commission is another great honor. The members of the Commission have been chosen by the Governor of Puerto Rico in preparation for Puerto Rico’s statehood. The governor described the Commission as a “delegation of two senators and five representatives for the Equality Commission that will go to Congress to demand a hearing for the American citizens living in Puerto Rico, who have twice demanded the termination of the colony and the admission of the Island as State of the Nation.”
“This delegation,” Governor Rossello said in a press release, “will have the primary mission of demanding that we be treated equally and that we are not discriminated against in federal programs that have left Puerto Rico behind in comparison to any state.”
Rodriguez was honored this spring in the Texas House of Representatives. The House Resolution explains that “Mr. Rodriguez immediately established himself as one of baseball’s best all-around players — equally as formidable behind the plate playing defense as he was offensively at the plate.”
Sports has traditionally had political overtones in Puerto Rico. The notion of “sports sovereignty,” a sense of identity as a territory confirmed by representation in the Olympics or other sporting competitions, has been an important issue in political status debates. Rodriguez, as an athlete whose career is a point of pride for Puerto Ricans (and Texans, too), will be able to bring that perspective to Washington.