Niekro also inducted into Texas Baseball Hall

Updated: November 12, 2005, 10:46 AM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez and former Houston Astros pitcher Joe Niekro headlined the list of seven inductees entered into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday night.

The group also included original Houston Colt .45s third baseman Bob Aspromonte; former National League umpire and Houston resident Satch Davidson; former Negro League star and Texas native Smokey Joe Williams; Astros executive Rob Matwick; and T.R. Sullivan, a Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports writer who heads the Major League Baseball Writer's Association.

A crowd of about 500 gathered at a Houston hotel for the induction ceremony.

Rodriguez was the most recognizable star, posing for pictures and signing autographs for children. Nicknamed "Pudge," the current Detroit Tiger played for the Rangers from 1991 to 2003, making every All-Star team from 1992 to 2001.

Rodriguez, whose 35th birthday is Nov. 27, said he would like to finish his career in Texas.

"Who knows? I still have a long way to go," said Rodriguez, who was named the 1999 AL MVP. "Every player's dream is to start and finish with the same team. I still have a couple of years left in me."

Niekro played for seven teams but spent more than half his 22-year career in Houston. Niekro won 144 games for the Astros between 1975-85 and remains the franchise's all-time winningest pitcher.

He was introduced at the ceremony by his son, Lance, who's now a first baseman with San Francisco.

"This is a great honor," said the elder Niekro. "I haven't played here in a long while. It's nice to know people still remember."

Niekro was happy the Astros -- and not the Rangers -- brought the first World Series to Texas last month.

"I'm glad we got it to Houston before they got it to Arlington," he said.

Astros announcer Milo Hamilton was the master of ceremonies and received the Hall's Toy Cannon Award, given for outstanding community service.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press