“Like everyone else, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle them is to learn from them and move forward.”
Alex Rodriguez, or A-Rod as most people know him, is one of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) names in recent baseball history. Whether breaking record after record on the field or living through various scandals involving steroids and women, the attention of the public and the media has been constantly fixated on this man for almost 25 years. And if drama and excitement were what they were hoping to see, Rodriguez has seldom disappointed either on the field or off. Here’s a look at 42 facts about the ups and downs of the life and career of the one and only A-Rod.
Alex Rodriguez Facts
42. I Got It!
A-Rod may have been a troublemaker, but at least he was a creative troublemaker. In a 2007 game against the Toronto Blue Jays, a pop-up was hit towards infielder Howie Clarke while Rodriguez was making his way to third base. As Clarke planted himself under the ball, he suddenly heard a voice shout “Ha! I got it!” Clarke apparently took the voice to be one of his teammates, and he backed off—letting the ball drop to the ground. The culprit who had really screamed that out was Rodriguez himself, and the sneaky trick allowed him to reach third base safely on what should have been a definite out. Sportsmanship much?
Despite being almost constantly plagued and distracted by scandal and spectacle, A-Rod managed to find the time to rack up some seriously impressive and historic numbers on the field—ending his career with the fourth most home runs of all time, behind only Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. That’s a pretty serious accomplishment!
40. Slapstick Baseball
A-Rod certainly had a knack for coming up with new and creative ways to help himself on the field, rules and normal standards be damned. The now infamous 2004 ALCS series between the Yankees and Red Sox saw A-Rod literally slap a ball out of pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove as Arroyo attempted to tag him out, allowing Derek Jeter to score. The Red Sox protested, however, and the umpires chose to rule against A-Rod’s antics, so despite his best efforts, the run didn’t end up counting.
39. Early Struggle
A-Rod’s father, Victor Rodriguez, abandoned the family when Rodriguez was just nine years old, leaving him and his two half-siblings to be raised by their mother, Lourdes Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was always on the move as a kid—having spent time living in New York, the Dominican Republic, and Miami all by the time he reached the fourth grade.
37. A Previous Life
Despite his reputation as an out-and-about bachelor who has dated many celebrities, Rodriguez was actually married for six years in the early days of his baseball career. He and his ex-wife Cynthia are the parents of two children, Ella and Natasha.
36. Great Expectations
A-Rod was destined to be the center of attention right from the beginning—he was the first overall pick in the 1993 Major League Baseball draft. It’s probably safe to say that he has scarcely gone unnoticed for even a moment ever since that day when he stepped on the world stage.
35. Bringing Home the Bacon
When Rodriguez signed with the Texas Rangers in 2000, he was given what was at the time the largest contract in the history of all professional sports—a ten year, $252 million deal. Not bad!
34. Outdoing Himself
A-Rod would go on to break his own record for biggest contract in sports history when he signed another ten year deal in 2007, this time for a whopping $275 million with the New York Yankees. As they always say, don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to who you were yesterday—or in this case, to who you were seven years ago!
33. Expenses, Expenses
What would you spend your money on if you were making hundreds of millions? In A-Rod’s case, he chose to put a chunk of his salary towards a beautiful private boat called the Sweet Swing. Maybe that’s his way of hoping for smooth sailing from now on?
32. Ladies’ Man
Rodriguez definitely takes the cliche “chicks dig the longball” to heart! Over the years, some of the high-profile celebrities with whom he’s gotten romantically involved have included Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz, and Jennifer Lopez. At a certain point, he’s just showing off.
31. Picking Sides
Despite having been born in New York City, A-Rod played for Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in order to fulfil his mom’s dream of seeing him represent her country of origin.
30. 40-40 Club
Ever since Jose Canseco announced his intention to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season and it was discovered that no one had ever done so, four people and four alone have achieved the feat—Canseco himself, Alfonso Soriano, Barry Bonds, and, you guessed it, our own A-Rod! This is yet another of the many exclusive clubs Rodriguez has patronized.
29. All the Way
Despite his countless records and personal accomplishments in his 20+ years on the diamond, A-Rod has only ever actually won the World Series one time—with the 2009 Yankees, a full sixteen years into his otherwise illustrious career. But not to worry—as long as New Yorkers were okay with spending hundreds of millions for a decade of constant entertainment rather than of championships, they certainly got their money’s worth.
The scandal that has undoubtedly caused the most damage to Rodriguez’s reputation is his use of performance enhancing drugs. After years of speculation and drama over the matter, A-Rod was busted in the 2013 Biogenesis scandal, in which several players secretly acquired banned substances from a sketchy source in Florida. Rodriguez would prove to be the main target of the league’s subsequent attempts to discipline players in response.
27. Not His Proudest Moment
There’s one all-time record A-Rod holds that he probably isn’t so proud of—the record for longest suspension in the history of baseball. In response to his 2013 steroid scandal, the league slapped a whopping 211-game suspension on him. Despite an appeal and a slight logistical adjustment to the sentence, Rodriguez was forced to miss the entire 2014 season.
26. Secret Mentor
Despite an often rocky relationship with much of the media, A-Rod has had an especially good relationship with prominent news anchor Katie Couric. He apparently often went to her for career advice during his contract renewal process back in 2007. Because who better to advise you on baseball contracts than a 60 Minutes host, right?
25. Trust But Verify
If A-Rod did in fact have some kind of close, trusting relationship with Katie Couric, it definitely wasn’t off to a great start—it was none other than Couric herself who interviewed Rodriguez back in 2007 when famously insisted that he had never used—or even been tempted to use—steroids. Right…
A-Rod is the only player in history to reach the 150 home run plateau on three different teams. I guess somewhere in between all these scandals, he found some time to play some decent baseball!
A-Rod has always had a difficult relationship with the man with whom he shared the spotlight for so many years in New York, Yankees captain Derek Jeter. The pair of star teammates have a history of conflict since at least A-Rod’s Texas days, when he publicly questioned Jeter’s talent level. Jeter, in turn, once complained about having to spend time with Rodriguez for a joint interview. The decade they spent on the same bench saw times where they were inseparable friends as well as frequent moment when their one-time feud resurfaced. Never a dull moment!
22. Parallel History
A-Rod is a staple in the epic Yankees-Red Sox rivalry—but this was almost so in a very different way. When the Texas Rangers were looking to unburden themselves of his massive contract back in 2004, a deal was being finalized to trade A-Rod to Boston in exchange for Manny Ramirez. However, the MLB players union didn’t like the terms and vetoed the plan. Who knows what kind of Butterfly Effect would have taken place if Rodriguez had spent most of his career on the other end of the rivalry?
A-Rod has a half-brother in the US Army named Victor, with whom he built a new relationship when the two were reconnected in 2003—after going 23 years without seeing each other.
20. Auspicious Date
Both A-Rod’s 500th and his 600th home runs both came on August 4, three years apart. I guess he found his lucky number!
Rodriguez always carries a copy of a motivational book called The Winner Within with him wherever he goes. The book was written by legendary basketball coach Pat Riley.
18. The Other Side of the Coin
Despite often being remembered for his scandals, Rodriguez has also shown his good side over the years. He once donated almost four million dollars to the University of Miami’s baseball program so that they could build a new stadium—which would ultimately be named after him.
17. Soft Side
A-Rod has co-authored two children’s books, Hit a Grand Slam and Out of the Ballpark. And just when you thought you knew the guy!
16. Quite the Adjustment
Baseball isn’t the only game that A-Rod has been passionate about—he grew up as a major fan of pinball. I guess everyone’s got a hobby of some kind!
When you stir up as much controversy as Rodriguez does, you’re bound to make a few enemies along the way. The generations-old Red Sox-Yankees rivalry wasn’t calmed much when Boston’s Trot Nixon got into a big feud with A-Rod in 2005 following a contentious playoff series. Nixon publicly criticized A-Rod, calling him out for being “not the Yankee type” and on a lower level than fellow Yankee players such as Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. At one point, he even insinuated that Rodriguez was “a deadbeat dad.” Yikes, that escalated quickly!
14. Other Paths
If his baseball career didn’t work out, A-Rod had planned to become a math teacher. Hopefully he wouldn’t have brought as much controversy to the classroom as he did to Yankee Stadium!
13. Animal Lover
In his personal life, A-Rod is the proud owner of a pet dog, appropriately named “Shorty Stop.” As far as we can tell, he did not change its name to “Third Basey” when he changed positions to join the Yankees.
When Rodriguez decided to try out for Team USA back in 1993, he became the first ever high school player to do so. Although he didn’t make the team, it certainly wouldn’t be long before he got another opportunity.
When a hip injury that interrupted his playoff participation turned out to have been a misdiagnosis, A-Rod did not react well—he sued the Yankees team doctor as well as members of the hospital at which he was treated, accusing them all of malpractice. A-rod got no chill.
10. Young At Heart
One talent A-Rod seems to have had while playing was his ability to become the youngest player ever to accomplish many feats. These include being the youngest player to ever reach 500 home runs, the youngest to reach 600, the youngest to make it to the Big Leagues in a decade, and youngest to ever join the elite 40-40 club.
9. Hidden Message?
Many fans would probably welcome an opportunity to hear A-Rod’s ex-wife Cynthia’s perspective on her tumultuous history with the slugger. However, some believe she did in fact covertly but intentionally share her feelings on one occasion when she showed up at the ballpark with the words “F*** you” on the back of her shirt in the aftermath of A-Rod’s stripper incident. Even though the shirt violated the team’s stadium policy, the staff chose to overlook it in this particular case.
8. Fighting Back
Needless to say, Rodriguez was not pleased with the enormous suspension he received in response to the doping scandal—and he made it known. He punched a wall and stormed out of the room during his arbitration hearing and openly railed against the legitimacy of the process, as well as the authority of Commissioner Bud Selig.
7. Caught Red-Handed
Rodriguez was scandalized by the New York Post in May 2007 when he was caught on camera leaving a Toronto strip club with a “mystery blonde,” later revealed to be a stripper named Joslyn Noel Morse—all while A-Rod was still married. Uh-oh!
The full-season suspension Rodriguez served in 2014 may well have been a turning point for him—since then, he wrapped up his playing career with a strong finish, started a serious relationship with Jennifer Lopez, and began a career as a sports broadcaster. And through all that, he’s remained pretty much scandal free! It’s never too late for a new beginning.
After missing the entire 2014 season, the 39 year-old Rodriguez surprised everyone by returning with one of his best starts to a season in recent memory in April 2015—even hitting a 477 foot-long home run. The secret to this late-career surprise success may have been an experimental “miracle surgery” that he decided to try out during the off-season as a long shot attempt at solving his knee and hip problems. I guess miracles really can come true!
In 2004, with the encouragement of his wife Cynthia, A-Rod made the tough decision to try and reconnect with his estranged father after 16 years apart. After a heartfelt phone call, his father showed up at the ballpark on Father’s Day weekend and they put the past behind them once and for all. Oh, and A-Rod just happened to hit two home runs that day!
3. Collateral Damage
A-Rod’s steroid scandals certainly did a lot of damage to his own image, but on one occasion he also managed to throw one of his peers under the bus too—whether intentionally or unintentionally, Rodriguez’s personal team leaked out the fact that Milwaukee Brewers superstar Ryan Braun was also a steroid user during their attempts to defend their client. Braun ended up getting suspended for a total of 65 games for his use of PEDs.
2. The Man Behind the Scandals
Cynthia Rodriguez gave us a glimpse into A-Rod’s private psyche when she alleged much of his troublesome behavior is due to the fact that he’s “immature” and feels uncomfortable with his “place in the world.” That’s some pretty heavy information to take in!
1. Trouble in Paradise
It’s believed that the collapse of A-Rod’s marriage was the result of reports that he was having an affair with Madonna. I guess “Like a Virgin” sounds a bit ironic now…