Rendón And Soto Highlight 2019 Season

HOUSTON – The celebration on the infield at Minute Maid Park was already dying down as Bridget and Rene Rendón counted their blessings. Their son Anthony, the Washington Nationals’ star third baseman, had just headed down the dugout steps and toward the visitors’ clubhouse.

Young phenom Juan Soto’s parents were a few feet away. The pride was evident in their voices. The tears of joy had already been wiped away.

As La Vida Baseball looks back at the exciting 2019 season, we will devote this week to looking back at our favorite interviews of the year. Between Ozzie Guillen Jr., Jennifer Mercedes, Julie Alexendria and Jesse Menendez, we have interviewed hundreds of the biggest figures in Latino baseball this season.

We have brought you stars ranging in ages from American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Álvarez, 22, to Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrín, 84.

We tried to take you behind the scenes at La Vida Baseball, whether touring the National Baseball Hall of Fame with Edgar Martinez during his orientation or asking Soto why he carried his bat to first base after his home run in Game 6 of the World Series

This assignment is as fun as it is difficult. It’s not quite like deciding which child is your favorite, but it’s almost as challenging because La Vida Baseball was everywhere this year. There were lots of highlights in a year in which I interviewed the President of Panama in Cooperstown, Martinez and Mariano Rivera in Cooperstown and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the dugout after his dramatic Home Run Derby performance.

Those are just some of the finalists on the list of my favorite interviews of 2019. The highlight of the year, however, was interviewing Anthony Rendón’s parents, Bridget and Rene Rendón, after Game 7 of the World Series.

Listening to Bridget and Rene Rendón, you can easily appreciate Anthony’s modest personality in the same way you can see Juan Soto’s flair in his father Juan Jose’s personality. I was blessed to have had multiple one-on-one interviews with both families this October.

Bridget and Rene Rendón raised their family a short drive from Minute Maid Park in Southwest Houston. They ushered him to Rice University because they thought he would benefit from the school and a few more years to grow.

The 2019 World Series was the ultimate homecoming for the Rendón family. It would have been more of a storybook finish only if Anthony had led the Astros to the World Series title. Instead, he beat his hometown team while helping the Nationals become the only World Series winner in history to earn all its victories on the road in a seven-game Fall Classic.

As the Nationals’ closest relatives and friends celebrated the title on the infield grass, Rene and Bridget Rendón were joined by their oldest son David and nearly a dozen relatives.

World Series was a family affair

They patiently took time to visit with La Vida Baseball to reminisce about their family’s journey from Southwest Houston to Anthony’s World Series title.

“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 7 or 8.”

As if sharing their time weren’t enough, they also made sure their oldest son David granted La Vida Baseball an interview. David was clearly shy and hesitant to give an interview, but he couldn’t turn down mom’s repeated requests. Then, the entire Rendón crew posed for a picture together for La Vida Baseball while Anthony celebrated in the clubhouse.

five others that stood out in 2019:

José Urquidy conquers Washington.

The best part of this job is the opportunity to chronicle history. You never know what you’ll see at the ballpark. It had been 38 years since a native of Mexico had won a World Series game as a starting pitcher.

It was an honor to tell José Urquidy’s story after he joined the legendary Fernando Valenzeula as the only two natives of Mexico to win World Series games as starting pitchers.

I loved taking readers through Urquidy’s entire day and his mom’s magical tour around our nation’s capital.

Edgar Martinez feels Clemente’s aura

I’ll never forget Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez’s reaction when he was handed the cap Roberto Clemente wore the day he collected his 3,000th hit. If I close my eyes, I can see Martinez gently caress Clemente’s Hall of Fame plaque.

Panama royalty visits Cooperstown

Mariano Rivera’s induction into the Hall of Fame was a historic moment as he became the first and only player elected unanimously into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Seconds after the ceremony, I rushed toward the stage to interview legendary Panamanian boxing champion Roberto Duran and the President of Panama.

Father’s Day in Houston

Father’s Day at Minute Maid Park was special in 2019 with Cavan Biggio playing a major league game for the first time at the stadium where he watched his Hall of Fame father Craig Biggio play.

As if that weren’t special enough, legendary Cuban ballplayer Lourdes Gurriel watched his sons, Yuli of the Astros, face Lourdes Jr., of the Blue Jays, as the family spent Father’s Day weekend together.

The flair doesn’t fall far from the tree

If you ever wonder where Nationals outfielder Juan Soto gets his personality, take a look at his charismatic father Juan José Sr.

I enjoyed visiting with Juan José Soto Sr. immediately after his son’s exploits in Game 1 of the World Series and then again throughout the Fall Classic. He even posed for a few pictures for La Vida Baseball after Game 7 with the poster he made at his hotel room.


Featured Image: Jose de Jesus Ortiz