After starring in Texas from 1991 to 2002 and then leading the Marlins to an unlikely world championship in 2003, the great backstop began a revival of the Tigers franchise when he signed a four-year, $40 million deal with Detroit, who had lost a humiliating 119 games in ’03. He earned All-Star honors four times and helped the Tigers to the AL pennant in 2006. His option for 2008 was picked up, but as the team slid out of contention it dealt Rodriguez to the Yankees in exchange for reliever Kyle Farnsworth. The deal was precipitated by New York's loss of Jorge Posada to season-ending right shoulder surgery. The Yankees were 58-48 at the time, two games back in the AL East and a game behind in the wild card race. While they went 31-25 the rest of the way, they missed the postseason for the first time since the 1994 strike, closing out the House That Ruth Built with a silent October.
Farnsworth was dreadful, putting up a 6.75 ERA before moving on to the Royals the next year for the next stop in his journeyman's career. As for Pudge, he hit just .219/.257/.323 during his Bronx stint, the beginning of the end of a career that ran through 2011. With his 14 All-Star appearances, 13 Gold Gloves and all-time records for games caught (2,427) and hits by a catcher (2,749, out of his total of 2,844), he received 76.0% of the vote this past winter and will be inducted on Sunday.