July 28th, 2017. It’s not a date that many Washington Nationals fans will remember too vividly, but that was the day that the team acquired Howie Kendrick from the Philadelphia Phillies ahead of the 2017 trade deadline.
Nobody could’ve imagined what would come next for the two sides over the next three years.
But 41 months later, after Kendrick became a hero for the Nationals during their improbable run to the first World Series in franchise history, the 15-year veteran has decided to retire from baseball, announcing the news in an Instagram post this evening.
Following his October heroics with the team, the 2019 NLCS MVP re-signed with the club on a one-year deal with the intention of making 2020 his last season in baseball and having one last hurrah with most of the teammates that he made history with in Washington.
However, the coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner in the works for everyone and the veteran wasn’t sure whether it was right for him to go out after a disappointing shortened season.
“This year was going to be my last year before COVID to be honest with you,” Kendrick told reporters towards the end of the 2020 season. “I was thinking about retiring after this year, but because of COVID it kind of raised the question of like, ‘Man, do you want go out like this? Do you want 2020 to be any worse?’
“So, 2020 has been strange due to COVID and all the other climate going around the country which I don’t really care to talk about, but you know it is a strange year, and to think that you would end on a year like this, it is a tough one.
“Like I said, I haven’t made any decision about what I was going to do yet, but I want to get healthy first and like I said, talk with my family and then decide. Because right now, being hurt, I wasn’t too happy about finishing this way, and we’ll see what happens.
“I don’t want to say yes and I don’t want to say no, because right now I really don’t have an answer, but all the guys on the team tell me four more years.”
In the end, Kendrick decided on a well-deserved retirement from the sport.
Before his announcement, the Nationals were still interested in bringing back Kendrick if he decided to play on, as Nationals General Manager, Mike Rizzo, alluded to on a conference call with reporters last week.
“I had two early conversations in the offseason with Howie specifically,” Rizzo explained. “I talked to Larry Reynolds, his agent, a couple of times on a couple of different subjects, but Howie’s name always comes up.”
“He’s a guy that’s dear to everyone’s heart and if there’s the right role and the right situations I’d love to have him back.”
Kendrick’s mind is now made up though, but as he steps away from the game, he will always have one of the most memorable legacies in Washington’s sporting history...
After 15 MLB seasons, I’ve decided to retire from the game of baseball. A dream that started as a 5 yr old boy in the town of Callahan, Florida. I will be forever grateful for the many life lessons baseball has taught me on this 32 yr 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. To my Wife Jody, my 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. After all of this we’ve made it to dad being home everyday. I’m looking forward to being a constant pain in your butt day in and day out. To everyone in Callahan who did their part to keep me on the straight and narrow, you’ve never been forgotten. To the LA Angels, thank you for taking a chance on me in 2002 and helping me blossom into the consistent player I became. 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. To my teammates throughout the years, thank you for the times and hardships we’ve shared. I’ve learned from you and hopefully taught some of you the bits and pieces I got from the guys before me. 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.