Hall of Famers Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and John Smoltz and perennial All-Stars Mark Mulder and Trevor Hoffman talked some baseball—and golf—on a media teleconference today in advance of their participation in the American Century Championships, taking place in Lake Tahoe, July 14-16.
The newly-minted Cooperstown inductee Rodriguez had a few things to say about the upcoming induction.
“The emotion is very high. It is less than a month for the ceremony and it is great just to be there after five years of being retired of baseball and being able to be in the Hall of Fame and be there with two good friends of mine with Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. I am going to be there a week early and be able to enjoy every event,” he said. “The most important thing is that it is only one time that I will be there and enjoy every event.”
“I was there a month ago with [HOF President] Jeff [Idelson], and they basically said you have to go there and be prepared when you get inducted in the HOF. There will be a lot of things going on and you will be here and there and it will be kind of busy but at the same time you enjoy everything. I was told the toughest year is your first. After the first year, it will be a blast.”
And on imagining if he would ever be inducted, he said, “Not really. My dream was to become a professional baseball player. I came from a small island in Puerto Rico, and that dream came true at the age of 16. I was one of the lucky players and it only took me two years to debut at the age of 19. My goal was to stay healthy and enjoy the game of baseball.”
On his golf game, Pudge has less lofty ambitions, coming in as a 300-to-1 longshot at the American Century, simply noting. “I am playing better now.”
Mulder, a 3-1 co-favorite along with recently retired Cowboys QB Tony Romo and winner of the last two titles here, came to the game of golf later, at least seriously.
“I shot mid 80’s in the college days. That would have not competed at college level. I did not have a great interest in golf at that age besides playing with friends and family.”
For Smoltz, the game was more of an obsession, as he “played every single day even when I was a closer.”
“Being a reliever, it was difficult to get out and play golf a lot,” explained Hoffman.” “I had to pick off days to get out there, but when I played I enjoyed it.”
He added, “I’m glad I wasn’t part of the Braves staff because that rotation I would have been invited many a time go play golf.”
All four are playing in the American Century Championship July 14-16 in Lake Tahoe live on NBCSN and NBC Sports. The tournament awards $600,000 in prize money and has raised over $4 million for Lake Tahoe regional charities and national non-profits, including this year’s official beneficiary, The Stowers Institute for Medical Research.