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Alex Rodriguez

Baseball Player

Born: 27 July 1975
Birthplace: New York, New York
Best known as:

The quarter-billion-dollar superstar known as "A-Rod"

Name at birth: Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez

Superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez is the controversial baseball star whose prowess with the bat has been overshadowed by his brushes with performance-enhancing drugs. Alex Rodriguez played his first major league baseball game at age 18 and became the starting shortstop for the Seattle Mariners at age 20. Nicknamed "A-Rod," he hit .358 with 36 homers in 1996, his first full season in the majors. His power, defensive skills, charisma and fan-friendly Hispanic heritage made him an attractive free agent after the 2000 season, and Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks signed Rodriguez to an unprecedented 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, making Rodriguez the highest-salaried player in professional sports history. Rodriguez played well for the Rangers (winning the American League MVP award in 2003), but the team finished last in its division for three straight years, and some felt that Rodriguez's mammoth contract had hobbled the team. In 2004 Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees, where he moved to third base to play alongside Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. He had an uneasy time with the New York media and over the years was criticized by fans who felt his post-season failures outweighed his regular-season excellence. Still, at the end of the 2007 season -- during which he batted .314 and hit 54 home runs -- he opted out of the final three years of his contract, then re-signed with the Yankees in a new 10-year deal worth a reported $275 million. The deal paid off in 2009, when Rodriguez had a breakthrough postseason -- batting .365 (19-for-52) with six home runs and 18 RBIs -- and the Yankees won the World Series. However, that same year Rodriguez admitted that he had used unnamed performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, when he was with the Rangers, saying he wanted to recover from an injury and that "I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve." He said at the time that his years with the Yankees "have been clean." But in 2013, ESPN and other reported that Major League Baseball had connected Rodriguez's name to the so-called Biogenesis scandal, named for a Florida clinic that allegedly dispensed human growth hormone (HGH) to players. On August 5th of that year, MLB did indeed suspend Rodriguez for a whopping 211 games, citing his "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited, performance-enhancing substances." An arbitrator later reduced that to 162 games -- the length of the 2014 season -- plus any 2014 playoff games. CBS News reported that the suspension would cost Rodriguez "$25 million of the $86 million remaining on his contract."

Extra credit:

Alex Rodriguez bats right-handed, throws right-handed, and wears uniform #13... Seattle made him the first pick in the first round of the 1993 amateur draft... His first appearance in the majors was on 8 July 1994... In 1998 he had 42 homers and 46 stolen bases, making him the third-ever member of baseball's "40-40 club" (Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco were the other members)... Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run on 4 August 2007, becoming (at 32) the youngest player to reach that number in major league history... Alex Rodgriguez married the former Cynthia Scurtis in 2002; they were divorced in September of 2008. They have two daughters: Natasha (b. 2004) and Ella (b. 2008).

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