Callahan native Howie Kendrick announced his retirement Monday after 15 years of playing Major League Baseball.
Playing in the MLB was “A dream that started as a 5-year-old boy in the town of Callahan,” Kendrick noted in a post on his Instagram account.
“I will be forever grateful for the many life lessons baseball has taught me on this 32-year journey. I want to give praise and thanks first to God and secondly my grandmother, Ruth Woods, who laid the ground work and introduced me to the game of baseball.”
Woods succumbed to cancer in November 2006, after receiving Kendrick’s rookie jersey. She was a source of encouragement for Kendrick, always pushing him to do his best.
Kendrick graduated from West Nassau High School and St. Johns River Community College (now a state college) signed the Warrior standout. He then left school a year early when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels during the 10th round of the 2002 MLB draft.
“To everyone in Callahan who did their part to keep me on the straight and narrow, you’ve never been forgotten. To the L.A. Angels, thank you for taking a chance on me in 2002 and helping me blossom into the consistent player I became,” Kendrick wrote.
“To the Dodgers, although the opportunity to wear Dodger Blue was brief, it will always be cherished. To the Philadelphia Phillies, thank you for helping me understand what it meant to become a leader and veteran.
“Last but not least, my beloved Washington Nationals, thank you for embracing me as one of your own. I feel as though I’d been a National my whole career and the wild, humbling and crazy ride we had in 2019 truly culminated everything I’d learned in my career, and we all became World Champions.”
The Nationals earned the championship against the Houston Astros in game seven of the 2019 World Series, with Kendrick’s solid performance contributing to that success. He was named the National League Championship Series MVP.
“To my teammates throughout the years, thank you for the times and hardships we’ve shared,” Kendrick continued. “I’ve learned from you and hopefully taught some of you the bits and pieces I got from the guys before me.”
He added, “To the fans, without your support and love for the game, our stage and lights would not shine as brightly as they do. Know you will be missed as well. I will always love the game of baseball and will constantly reflect on the lifelong memories made. For now, it’s time to drop the mic and enter a new stage of my life.”
He plans to spend more time with wife Jody and sons Owen and Tyson.
“I love you more than anything in this world. Thank you for sticking it out on this ride I called a dream,” he shared. “After all of this we’ve made it to dad being home every day. I’m looking forward to being a constant pain in your butt day in and day out.”
Kendrick’s career success was highlighted as he was inducted into the WNHS Hall of Fame Oct. 23. He was inducted alongside former faculty members Jim Stearn, Johnnie Green, Hilda Alderman and the late Don Reynolds.
Kendrick graduated from WNHS in 2001. He was baseball All-Nassau County MVP and All-State, continuing on to become a JUCO All-American before playing professional baseball.
A message from Kendrick played over the loudspeakers at Warrior Field during the induction.
“It’s been a long road coming from Callahan as a little boy at 5 years old, having the dreams of being a Major Leaguer ... and then to win a World Series as well. But none of that would have been possible without a lot of the great people around the Town of Callahan and a lot of people at (WNHS) who influenced me to do better, to be better and to work hard.
“It takes a lot of practice, a lot of hard work and a lot of talent to get to where I am. I just want to say ‘thank you’ to the people that have helped me. ... I never take any day for granted that I’ve had.”