Aspiring professional athletes usually follow the same path to success – play their sport of choice in high school, secure a sports scholarship to attend a university, and then get selected by a professional team in the draft. For many people we adore in the world of baseball today, this seems to be the case bar a few others that go straight from high school. For Howie Kendrick, however, things did not go on for him as he had imagined.
The Major League Baseball player had tried out for several colleges but received no interest. Luck later shined on him by pure chance after he was spotted by Los Angeles Angels scout Tom Kotchman who could not believe Howie had a hard time finding a team or had not already been snapped up by other scouts. He would later arrange for the Angels to select him in the 2002 MLB draft. Here’s all about the career of the now-retired baseball infielder, his current endeavors, and his personal life too.
1. Kendrick’s Grandmother Ruth Woods Led Him to Baseball
Born Howard Joseph Kendrick III on July 12, 1983, in Jacksonville, Florida, the former professional baseball star is the son of a US Army officer named Belinda and an absentee father who he never knew. Due to the nature of his mother’s job, Howard (then 12-years-old) and his sisters named Christina and Michelle, started living with their grandmother, Ruth Woods, in Callahan, Florida, as their mom was deployed overseas.
Considering the environment where he grew up, Howie could have been just another example of someone who died as a result of drugs or violence in Callahan. He could have abandoned his love for playing sports, denying the world a chance of seeing one of the best prospects to ever hit the majors in recent times. But he could not do that because his grandmother, a strong-willed, old-fashioned woman, was set on seeing him excel.
As a 5-year-old boy, Kendrick spent most afternoons in his grandma’s driveway, tossing rocks into the air and hitting them with a stick. Having noticed his passion for sports, Ruth was determined to give him all the support he needed to make it as an athlete. However, she wouldn’t allow him to play football because she was afraid he would break a bone. She rather set him on the path of becoming a baseball star, instilling a passion for the sport in him at a very young age and by so, steering him away from trouble.
Howie’s grandmother did this by simply telling him to go down to the Little League (a baseball league for 8 to 12-year-old boys and girls) field on one of the days he was throwing and hitting rocks in her driveway. And this was all it took to kindle little Howie’s passion for baseball.
2. The Baseball Star was Once at War with His Mother
Howie Kendrick’s mother eventually came back home from overseas with the hope of having one big happy family, but that was not to be. Kendrick misbehaved, said some really nasty things, and left the house. He moved in with his friend’s family, the Cokers. However, the relationship between the mother and son is very much better now.
According to the former professional baseball player, as reported by DesertNews, looking back at the reasons he didn’t get along with his mother as he got older, he realized that it was an adolescent thing. He also admitted that he was hard-headed and because he was getting older, he thought he knew everything. Having realized his mistakes, Howie said he does not blame his mother for anything because a lot of the issues they had were all his fault. Thankfully, things are very much better between them now and they speak frequently.
3. Howie Kendrick may Never Have Made it to the MLB if Not for His High School Coach
Kendrick is a former student of West Nassau High School, Callahan, Florida. During his time there, other students called him “sloppy” because he was fat and never wore clothes that fit. He played baseball with the school’s team and was also so good at other sports that the varsity baseball coach, Richard Pearce, figured he could have been a star in football, soccer, or even basketball if he had chosen any of them.
Thanks to his athletic strength, Howie was able to get his teammates to drop sloppy and start calling him by his name after he challenged the best tennis player in the school and beat him. Unfortunately, as good as he was in several sports, including baseball, which was his major focus, Howie tried out for several colleges but received no interest.
Speaking of the efforts he made in a bid to get Kendrick recruited, Pearce said he traveled the country in an attempt to find someone who would listen to him. Sadly, at 5′ 7” and not more than 110 pounds, Howard was considered undersized and as a result, nobody wanted him. However, coach Pearce managed to convince a closeby community college known as Lake City to come and watch him at West Nassau.
Regrettably, Kendrick made an early mistake at shortstop that made the coaches leave. Even though he eventually hit the game-winning home run with almost no one in the stands, it didn’t really matter. That notwithstanding, coach Pearce never gave up on him and so he took Kendrick to St. Johns River Community College in Palatka, Florida, where he was finally accepted. He only played for one season – in the spring of 2002 – and was even named Conference Player of the Year before luck smiled brightly on him.
4. The Star Athlete Proved His Worth at St. Johns River and This Opened the MLB Door for Him
Awed by Howie Kendrick’s amazing talent, the head coach at Brevard Community College, Ernie Rosseau, who had watched him play, called Tom Kotchman, telling him that Howie was a must-see. Because Kotchman, scout for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, always agreed with Rosseau’s judgment, he went out to St. John’s River to see things for himself. But on noticing that there were no other scouts there apart from a small program from Illinois, he lowered his expectations.
As the game started, Tom recorded Howie Kendrick with his camera and he was amazed at what he saw the young man do on the pitch. He found it hard to believe that there were no other scouts there and that other junior colleges had rejected him, asking, “What were they thinking?”
Not long after, Tom Kotchman showed the tape to Donny Rowland, who was the Angels’ scouting director at the time. While they watched, Donny asked Kotchman a couple of basic questions but was too captivated by a swing Howie made to bother about the answers. That swing was all that mattered to him (and thankfully, it never changed all through his career).
5. Howie Kendrick Played For Four MLB Teams During His Active Years
Having no intention of letting Howie slip through their fingers, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim picked him in the 10th round of the MLB draft in 2002. On joining the team, he was nicknamed “Truck” for two reasons – because his body build was like that of a truck and because he loved big cars.
Although he signed to the team in 2002, he only got to make his MLB debut in 2006, precisely on April 26, in a game against the Detroit Tigers. During the 2006-2007 offseason, Howie Kendrick became the Angels starting second baseman after the incumbent starter left the team. That year he batted .322 and more than .300 in the year that followed.
In 2011, Howie Kendrick joined two of his teammates to serve as representatives of the Angels in Phoenix, Arizona, after he was picked to serve as an American League reserve in that year’s All-Star Game. 2012 saw Kendrick sign a new four-year contract with the Angels, which was his first long-term deal. He would then go on to have a strong season for his team, batting .287 with 8 home runs and 67 RBIs.
He Left His Draft Team After 8 Years
The baseman remained with the Angels until 2014 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sadly, he played in only 117 games for the Dodgers due to an injury. Despite receiving a qualifying offer for one year deal worth $15.8 million, he rejected it. Moving forward, however, Howard eventually re-signed with the Dodgers on February 4, 2016, and went on to record the lowest fly ball percentage (19.6%) and the highest ground ball percentage (61.0%) of all major league hitters.
Howie Kendrick’s time in Los Angeles came to an end after he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in November 2016. He stayed with the team for a few months before being traded again, this time to the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately, injuries hampered his first season with the team but the 2019 season proved to be nothing short of remarkable as he finished with a batting average of .344 in 330 at-bats, alongside 62 RBIs and 17 home runs.
That same year, Kendrick hit a grand slam to see off one of his former teams in the National League Division Series. The Nationals went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series for him to be named the National League Championship Series MVP. Things did not stop there for him and his team as they went on to win their first championship in franchise history while Kendrick was named the recipient of the 2019 Heart and Hustle Award.
Towards the end of 2019, following the expiration of his contract, he signed a one-year extension that would have him remain with the Washington Nationals until the 2020 season, which was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the fact that he was never projected to be a superstar from the onset, Howie Kendrick remained in the big leagues for over a decade and left every team he played on better than it was when he joined them.
6. A Look at His History of Injuries
Injuries are more than normal in the world of sports and Howie Kendrick has had his fair share of them. His first notable injury was during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he suffered a strained hamstring in a game on August 9, 2015. He was subsequently placed on the injured list until he returned on September 18, however, the injury would continue to bother him for the rest of the season.
The next notable injury he suffered was in April 2017 when his team at the time, the Phillies, placed him on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right abdomen. In 2018, when he had joined the Nationals, the second baseman suffered what turned out to be his most serious injury to date, a ruptured right Achilles tendon that prematurely ended his season.
7. What is the Highest Accomplishment of Howie Kendrick’s Career?
In the course of his professional baseball career, Howard Kendrick earned a number of awards and recognitions. One year before making his MLB debut, Baseball America named him as the best prospect in Texas League. The following year, however, he dropped to 12th place. Other recognitions the veteran infielder has earned include the following:
- All-Star (2011)
- World Series Champion (2019)
- National League Championship Series MVP award (2019)
8. Howard’s Career Contracts and Net Worth
Thanks to his successful athletic career, Howie Kendrick is reported to be worth an estimated $7-$8 million. His first baseball contract was with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he began his career in 2006 after signing a one-year contract worth $327,500. The following year, he signed another one-year contract worth $395k, a figure that would continue to go up as the years went by. In 2008, he was paid $432k, 2009 $465k, 2010 $1.75 million, and 2011 $3.3 million.
2012 saw Kendrick sign his first long-term deal with the Angels, a four-year contract worth $33.5 million. Before the end of the contract, he moved over to the Los Angeles Dodgers following a trade deal. In 2016, Kendrick put pen to paper on a two-year contract with the Dodgers worth $20 million. He was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Phillies about nine months later and subsequently to the Washington Nationals in July 2017.
Following the end of the season, Howie re-signed with Washington on a two-year deal worth $7 million, including incentives. Towards the end of 2019, he signed a one-year extension worth $6.25 million and by the end of the deal, he became a free agent.
9. At What Age Did Howie Kendrick Retire?
After playing 15 major league seasons, Howie Kendrick, at the age of 37, decided it was time to take a bow from professional baseball. He announced his retirement from the league through his Instagram page on the 22nd of December, 2020, saying it was time to drop the mic and enter a new stage of his life.
In his message, the former infielder thanked God, his grandmother, his wife, sons, his fans, teammates, as well as every one of the teams he played for in the majors.
10. Where is Howie Kendrick Now?
Almost one year after his retirement, Kendrick returned to the Philadelphia Phillies. The team announced on November 16, 2021, that he was hired as a special assistant to Sam Fuld, who is the team’s general manager. Apart from the retired baseball player, the Phillies also announced five other hirings.
11. What We Know About Howie Kendrick’s Wife and Family
Away from the pitch, Howie Kendrick is a family man. The Jacksonville, Florida native is happily married to his wife Jody (nee Jensen) who exchanged vows with him in January 2007. The couple had originally met in 2005 in Arizona while Kendrick was playing in the Arizona Fall League.
As the story goes, Jodie and Howie met in a local gym where they struck a friendship. They soon after took things to another level and started dating. After a two-year-long relationship, they decided to get married and have remained together ever since, further welcoming two sons; Owen and Tyson.