Another World Series hero will not be returning to the Nationals in 2021. Howie Kendrick, whose pair of game-changing homers helped lift the Nats to their first World Series title in 2019, announced he is retiring from Major League Baseball after 15 seasons.
Kendrick posted the announcement on his Instagram account on Monday night.
“Last but not least, my Beloved Washington Nationals, thank you for embracing me as one of your own,” he wrote. “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.”
Kendrick’s game-winning grand slam home run in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers will forever be remembered by Nats fans. With Game 5 tied 3-3 in the 10th inning and the bases loaded, Kendrick crushed an 0-1 offering with no one out off reliever Joe Kelly well over the right-center field wall. The blast help to lift the Nats to the 7-3 win, giving them their first playoff series victory in franchise history.
That homer was followed up with the clang heard ‘round the world in Houston two series later. Kendrick’s two-run shot off of then-Astros reliever (and future teammate) Will Harris in the top of the seventh changed the fortune for the Nationals in Game 7 of the World Series, a game the Nats would eventually win 6-2 to take home the first baseball title for Washington, D.C., since 1924.
Oh, and that other series he was a major part of? In the National League Championship Series sweep over the Cardinals, Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles and four RBIs over four games earning Most Valuable Player honors.
Kendrick was also an invaluable clubhouse presence for his teammates and younger players. Nats hitting instructor Troy Gingrich spoke about Kendrick’s influence on prospects during spring training, noting how he would teach them how to prepare before each at-bat.
Nats fans will always remember those history-making hits by Kendrick. The 5-foot-11, 225-lb.native of Callahan, Fla., was indeed a clutch hitter, and he came up with big hits for the Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nats over the course of 15 seasons from 2006 to 2020. Even as late as last week, general manager Mike Rizzo was optimistic the Nats would have a chance to re-sign the veteran if he still wanted to play.
But Kendrick’s left hamstring limited the infielder to just 25 games and 91 at-bats in 2020. At 37, Kendrick had joked during the season he did not want to retire because his kids loved coming into the Nats clubhouse, hanging out with his teammates and playing around.
His career numbers are solid: a .294/.337/.430 slash line over 1,621 games with 354 doubles, 38 triples, 127 homers and 724 RBIs. Despite those numbers, Kendrick received just one All-Star invite - in 2011, halfway through his tenure with the Angels. Amazingly, he was a 10th-round selection by the Halos in 2002 out of St. John’s River Community College in Florida.
Kendrick now gets a chance to play around and be home with his wife and two sons every day, enjoying the fruits of his hard work. He will be able to look back proudly at an incredible, unforgettable major league career.