HOUSTON – Anthony Rendon was about seven or eight years old the first time he shared his major league dreams with his mother, Bridget. In that dream, he was playing in the World Series. The bases were loaded, and there were already two out.
At that age, Rendon was dreaming about wearing his hometown Astros’ uniform in the World Series. Heck, the Washington Nationals franchise was still in Montreal as the Expos in the National League with the Astros at the time.
Bridget and her husband Rene Rendon recalled their son’s childhood dream as they stood a few feet from third base, Anthony’s position, while Anthony and the rest of the Nationals celebrated their World Series title at Minute Maid Park.
Rendon didn’t dream about winning the Most Valuable Player. He dreamed about winning it all, and that’s what the native of southwest Houston accomplished last month a short drive from his childhood home. He finished third in the National League MVP race on Thursday, finishing behind the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and runner-up Christian Yellich of the Brewers.
There’s no denying that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America got it right by selecting Bellinger as the 2019 NL MVP. Rendon will gladly settle for the Nationals’ first World Series title instead and the La Vida Baseball 2019 Most Valuable Player as the top Latino player in baseball in both leagues.
La Vida Baseball, which celebrates Latino contributions to baseball in partnership with the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is in its third season.
The bi-cultural Rendon, the son of an Anglo mother and Mexican American father, embodies the best of the Latino baseball community. Actually, he embodies the best of baseball, no qualifying necessary, but he is a special inspiration to Houston’s large Latino population and Latinos everywhere.
He’s bright and talented. He put education first by attending the prestigious Rice University, choosing one of the best schools in America in part because he wanted to play close to his childhood home.
He’s arguably the top free agent this winter. He’s an All-Star third baseman, a quiet team leader. More importantly, he’s a devoted husband and beloved son.
He’s not a media darling because, quite honestly, he doesn’t aspire to be one. Not only does he not seek the microphone and cameras, but some would say that he actually shies away from them.
“They definitely taught me to be humble,” Anthony Rendon said of his parents. “Both of my parents are very quiet individuals. They told me not to boast about myself. It’s not about me.
“Obviously being in this game there’s way more players on the team than just yourself, give as you can and then you have nothing to worry about if things don’t go your way because you know that you did everything you could.”
That mindset helped carry Rendon from Houston’s Post Oak YMCA at five years old to his Game 7 heroics that sparked the Nationals’ comeback victory over the Astros in the winner-take-all thriller.
As Rene and Bridget Rendon waited patiently for their youngest son with their oldest son David and about a dozen relatives during the championship celebration, they reminisced.
“He would have a dream that it was bases loaded, two outs and he was at the plate,” Bridget said of Anthony. “And he would hit a grand slam, and I was like, ‘You never know, Anthony, it might happen one day.’
“It didn’t happen like that, but he hit a home run. … He wrote a little storybook one time about his brother (David) who also played when he was seven or eight.”
Anthony Rendon’s childhood dreams were first captured in that book about David Rendon.
Multiple teams will bid for Rendon’s services this winter. They’ll be eager to land his bat after watching him hit 34 home runs with 126 RBI, 117 runs and a 1.010 OPS this season.
Nobody has accomplished that combination of feats in a single season since Albert Pujos pulled them off in 2009 to win his third and final NL MVP Award.
As with Pujols, though, it’s unfair to merely focus on Rendon’s brilliant play while telling his story. His story is much greater than his exploits on the field.
“Anthony is a God-fearing, God-loving man,” Bridget Rendon said. “He is somebody that believes God’s No. 1 in his life more so than baseball. If baseball went away tomorrow, he’d still have God in his life to lead him wherever he needs him to go.
“He’s a God-fearing, God-loving man, and that’s what I want the world to know about Anthony more so than anything.”
Without missing a beat, Rene Rendon added, “Exactly what she said.”
That’s the story the introverted Rendon is proud to share.
“My faith, the man upstairs, Christ really centers me,” Anthony Rendon said a day before Game 1 of the World Series. “I try to look for ways to fill that void, that happiness in my heart, whether you wanted all the other vices that you put out there, but I put faith in Christ. That’s really the main thing that’s going to fulfill you through this whole time.”
La Vida Baseball’s 2019 Player of the Year is more than just a baseball superstar. Rendon, 29, put his dreams down in a storybook more than two decades ago.
That’s just part of the story the quiet superstar has been eager to tell.