René Cárdenas born February 6, 1930) is a Nicaraguan sports journalist and announcer. He became the first Spanish-language announcer to cover Major League Baseball, when he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958. He has also broadcast games for the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers and has announced boxing matches as well. While working for the Astros, Cárdenas developed the first international radio network, which broadcast games to Central and South America.
|Born||1929/1930 (age 90–91)|
|Sports commentary career|
|Team(s)||Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers|
|Sports||Major League Baseball, Boxing|
Cárdenas was born in Managua, Nicaragua. He is the grandson of Adán Cárdenas, who introduced baseball to Nicaragua in the late 19th century and served as the President of Nicaragua. His uncle, Adolfo, played on the Nicaraguan national baseball team.
In 1958, the Los Angeles Dodgers hired Cárdenas to announce their games on the radio in Spanish, making him the first Spanish-language baseball announcer in Major League Baseball. He trained Jaime Jarrín, who had little prior experience with baseball. Cárdenas also called a championship boxing match held between Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer.
In 1961, he was hired by the expansion Houston Colt .45s (now the Houston Astros). He created the first international radio network for baseball in 1966 in order to help the Astros recruit talent in South and Central America. He also called events in other sports that were held at the Astrodome, including the boxing match won by Jimmy Ellis to claim the boxing championship stripped from Muhammad Ali. His signature was stamped onto the last beam used in its construction.
The Astros canceled their Spanish-language broadcasts in 1975, firing Cárdenas. He returned to Nicaragua, where he called games on television and radio, but he returned the United States in 1981 to call games for the Texas Rangers. From 1982 through 1998, he called games for the Dodgers. After that, he entered semi-retirement, as he continued to write for La Prensa and the Spanish-language website of the Astros.
In 2002, Cárdenas was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. He was included in the balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award in 2011 and 2012, but did not win the award in either year.
Cárdenas' first marriage ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Jilma, in 1957. Cárdenas has a daughter from his first marriage and a son from his second.
Cárdenas became a citizen of the United States in 1963. In 1979, the couple fled Nicaragua and lost their home and valuables to the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Cárdenas' half-brother, Chester Escobar, had worked with the Somoza family, and was executed by the Sandinista government. Cárdenas now makes his home in Houston, and he refuses to return to Nicaragua until his belongings are returned to him.
- "THE SUNDAY PROFILE: Wins & Losses: Rene Cardenas brought baseball to millions with his pioneering broadcasts in Spanish. Now, shaken by tough times, he clings to his claim to the Hall of Fame". Los Angeles Times. 1995-06-18. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "René Cárdenas Biography | astros.com". Houston.astros.mlb.com. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "Astros bring out veteran for Spanish TV (w/ video) - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "Cardenas named a finalist for Frick Award". Houston Astros. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
- "Former Astros announcer Cardenas back on Hall's Frick Award ballot". Ultimate Astros. Blog.chron.com. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2013-01-17.