Pudge goes deep for 300th homer
Astros catcher's milestone long ball a go-ahead shot
CHICAGO -- Ivan Rodriguez picked a good place to hit his 300th home run on Sunday afternoon. At Wrigley Field, the fans don't hold onto opponent's home run balls, which means the Astros' catcher will without a doubt be leaving Chicago with a nice souvenir.
"I've got it right here," Rodriguez said, beaming, while pointing to his locker. "I was telling my father last night, 'I would love to hit it here, because I know the fans are going to throw it.' So, I've got it."
Rodriguez launched a two-run shot off the Cubs' Rich Harden, capping a four-run fourth-inning rally that put the Astros ahead by two. The ball landed in the basket that runs across the ivy wall in the outfield, and a fan reached in, grabbed the ball and immediately threw it back onto the field.
Lance Berkman, never shy to offer his two cents, boldly informed the media following the game that he called the shot.
"Well, I also called it yesterday," Berkman admitted. "But it didn't happen."
As the ball sailed to the left-center wall, Rodriguez gleefully raised his arm above his head as he rounded the bases. He said he knew it was a home run "as soon as I hit it." He was then greeted warmly by his teammates upon his return to the dugout.
"It was great," Berkman said. "You come to the dugout and everybody gave him a hug and he was just grinning from ear to ear. It's a tremendous accomplishment, the man's a Hall of Famer, he's been around a long time, and that's a lot of home runs."
Said Rodriguez: "It's nice. In baseball, you hit 300 home runs or even one, to be honest with you, it's awesome. To be in 18 years in my career, to get to 300 and have the career that I've had and to be able to stay healthy pretty much my entire career, to be able to reach these kind of goals is very nice."
The 19-year big league veteran has hit 293 of his 300 homers as a catcher, good for seventh among backstops on the all-time list. He's 20 games away from tying the other Pudge -- Carlton Fisk -- for the record for all-time games caught. Sunday marked Rodriguez's 2,206th game behind the plate.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.