Joining three other politicians with deep ties to Puerto Rico’s statehood movement, future Hall of Fame baseball player Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez was named by Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló to an equality commission that once completely filled and approved by the island’s legislature, would head to Washington, D.C., and advocate to make the U.S. territory the 51st state of the Union.
Rodríguez’s appointment to the commission was announced Monday by Rosselló. The 45-year-old Rodríguez —who was born in Manatí, Puerto Rico, and played in the majors for 21 years— is one of the commission’s seven members, which include former governor Carlos Romero Barceló, former governor Pedro Rosselló González (the current governor’s father) and Charlie Rodríguez, president of Puerto Rico’s Democratic Party. The remaining three members are expected to be named soon.
Days before a non-binding June 11 plebiscite led to an overwhelming (and controversial) victory for Puerto Rico’s statehood proponents, Puerto Rican lawmakers passed a Tennessee Plan (modeled after Tennessee’s 18th-century efforts to become a state) that called for an equality commission of seven Puerto Ricans, who would then travel to Washington, D.C., and call for two seats in the Senate and five seats in the House of Representatives. Although a handful of elected representatives have supported statehood for Puerto Rico, Congress has yet to formally act since the June 11 vote, and it is not likely that it will in the near future.
“Iván Rodríguez’s experience in other facets of life,” Rosselló said at a Monday press conference, “will add important aspects to the commission that we must highlight in the United States, regarding the values that make our society productive and hard-working.”
According to the Associated Press, Rodríguez was chosen to provide a “nonpartisan perspective” to process. He is considered an independent, unlike the three Democrats who were added to the commission on Monday. There is still speculation that the remaining three commission members will be Republicans, since the island’s resident commissioner, Jenniffer González (a non-voting member of Congress), is a member of the GOP.
At the end of this month, Rodríguez will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.