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Pudge Rodriguez World Classic set to play in Melissa

Joshua Baethge,
The Anna-Melissa Tribune
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is considered by many to be the best catcher in baseball history. A baseball tournament bearing his name will be held June 16-21 at Z-Plex at Zadow Park.

MELISSA - Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is coming to Melissa next week.

The first-ballot hall of famer and former Texas Ranger great will host the inaugural Pudge Rodriguez World Classic June 16- 21 at the Z-Plex in Zadow Park, 3001 McKinney St.

The event will feature 20 teams of players age 16 and younger.

The players hail from Texas as well as California, Colorado and New Mexico. They are some of the best in their age group, so there will likely be college and pro coaches in attendance.

Local leader Doug Zadow was instrumental in getting Rodriguez to Melissa. The two hit it off over their shared loves of baseball and golf.

Many other baseball players host tournaments for different age groups. The Connie Mack Classic may be the most famous, but there are also tournaments founded by Nolan Ryan and Don Mattingly, among others.

Zadow convinced Rodriguez that this would be a good opportunity for him.

Zadow has served on the Melissa parks board and economic development board, among other civic efforts. However, sports are his passion.

He’s coached thousands of girls basketball games and has been instrumental in getting events to the Z-Plex. These days, it’s not unusual to find pro scouts, college practices and even college games at the fields.

While the baseball tournament itself remains intact, original plans for other events like a home run derby and banquet had to be scrapped due to COVID-19.

There were also supposed to be teams from Puerto Rico and Columbia (the home countries of Rodriguez and his wife) participating, but those plans also had to be changed.

Despite these disappointments, Zadow is excited that this event is coming to Melissa, and will hopefully grow for years to come.

“There is not another Pudge Rodriguez tournament anywhere,” he said. “We got it. It’s ours. We own it and hopefully 75 years from now it will be like the Connie Mack and everyone will be coming to the Pudge Rodriquez World Classic.”