Biography

With a firm purpose and determination he made his dream a reality!
By: Carlos J. López

RENÉ CÁRDENAS, 2008 - Translated into English - Updated July 31, 2008.

It was in 2000 when the Nicaraguan Baseball Hall of Fame inducted this Nicaraguan who at a very young age started to build a professional sports career in the world of the king of sports: "Baseball". He actually made Nicaragua proud for having a son who built a distinguished presence in the most important baseball parks in the US. It was the year 2002 when René Cárdenas was elevated to the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of U.S. Hispanic Heritage.

It was at the very young age of 16 when René was already writing a sports column for "La Estrella de Nicaragua" newspaper. Later on he wrote for "La Prensa" journal, in Managua, where he worked as Sports Editor and baseball columnist (Deportivas al Día). Little by little, the Nicaraguans started reading the distinctive type of news written by René Cárdenas.

He was eager to deliver to the public not only his very detailed narrative expressions but his evident youthful enthusiasm he started working as a baseball announcer for La Voz de Nicaragua, and continued in La Voz de la América Central, Radio Mundial, and Radio Panamericana, all radio stations in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.

In a relatively short period of time, young René Cárdenas was already well known in Nicaragua as the Chief Baseball, Basketball and Boxing Announcer. At the age of 20, he was the principal broadcaster for the 11th Amateur Baseball World Series. Along with his dedication and uncommon purpose René simultaneously shown a desire to share and teach. That is why he trained the late José "FAT" García, and Sucre Frech, who a few years later excelled as baseball announcers in Nicaragua.

René wanted to reach to the highest levels and decided to go to the United States to pursue his dream to achieve big-time success there. Once there and with the intention to keep alive his ties to Nicaragua, he also wrote for Managua's La Prensa, as its sports writer outside of Nicaragua, covering all sports for the journal. René's professional career as a Major League Baseball broadcaster started to enhance in 1958. He initiated his first season with Los Angeles Dodgers, which forever marked the history of professional baseball in the U.S.A. René was the pioneer, the creator, producer and initial announcer in Spanish for the play-by-play baseball broadcasts of the Major Leagues, for the U.S. market.

The play-by-play enthusiastic descriptions of the game by René were successful, and from 1959 to 1962, he trained another play-by-play baseball announcer in Jaime Jarrín, a native of Ecuador, where baseball is not a popular sport. For the first time, in 1959, René announced for the Los Angeles fans the World Series between the Dodgers and the White Sox. Shortly after that in his already singular and thoroughly descriptive way he announced from San Francisco the All-Star Game for "Cabalgata Deportiva Gillette", along with Buck Cannel, now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The versatility of René Cárdenas was always such that in a very professional way he was aptly able to describe for the listening audience in many different places, punch by punch, the Championship Boxing Match between Fulmer and Robinson. René also did this side by side with Buck Cannel, from the Arena Coliseum in Los Angeles.

The well-deserved popularity of René in the Major Leagues awakened the interest of several Nicaraguan entrepreneurs. For three consecutive years, from '59 to '61 he was the primary announcer, exclusively signed by "Radio 590 and Unión Radio" to broadcast winter league baseball for his fellow nationals, who were delighted to listen to the accomplished major leagues baseball announcer, who year after year was giving glory to Nicaragua. In 1962 as a consequence of Rene's personal recommendation, José "Fat" García began announcing baseball as the main Spanish Broadcaster for Los Angeles Dodgers, and remained as such until 1972, due to his unfortunate and untimely death.

From 1962 to 1975, René was able to soar to new heights announcing baseball in Spanish, as registered by the history of baseball in the U.S.A. A new baseball team was started in Houston, Texas, the business people and New York advertising agencies decided to do it big-time. They convinced René to leave the Dodgers' organization and to start a new career in Houston, now the 4th largest city in the U.S.A. The team's name was "Houston Colt .45s," and later called the Houston Astros. His responsibilities there included not only baseball announcing but he was also Director of Spanish Broadcasting for all the sports events that took place at the Astrodome, also known as the 8th Wonder of the World. From that imposing architectural structure, the most famous covered park of the world, he announced the 1968 All-Star Game.

It is appropriate to mention here that René Cárdenas' signature was stamped on the last structure beam installed at the Astrodome, in recognition to his very valuable contributions to bring to reality make that unique project of those times.

The Houston Astros was the first team that created a Spanish Division, and René was its first Director. In truth, René was the creator, organizer, producer and broadcaster of the First Baseball Spanish International Broadcasting Network ("Primera Cadena Internacional de Transmisión de Béisbol en Español"), from Houston, Texas, to México, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

From the Astrodome, the Nicaraguan native René Cárdenas broadcasted through that network numerous world championship boxing matches. When then Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) refused to go to the war in Vietnam, the United States stripped him from his Heavy Weight World Champion belt and a contest was organized to find a new champion, which came to be Jimmy Ellis. All those boxing matches were broadcasted in Spanish for the world over by none other than René Cárdenas, assisted by his close friend, the famous Cuban broadcaster Orlando Sánchez-Diago. In short time, René, was promoted to consultant to the President of the Houston Astros, Judge Roy Hofheinz, as well as consultant and assistant to the V.P. Mr. Fred Hofheinz.

For the Houston Astros organization René was also the P.R. Director for Latin America and Spanish National and International News Media Relations Director. He was responsible for the official translation into Spanish of all the sports press releases, and for a while he worked with Bill Giles, who was the Astros Advertising Director and later the part-owner of the Philadelphia Phillies.

René was not only a broadcaster, but for seven years he was also a well-liked interviewer in fluent Spanish, with a natural politeness and unmatched human warmness, performing reports for "Good Morning America" international edition of the Voice of America.

In 1972 for Radio 590, in Managua, Nicaragua, René performed as the main broadcaster of the 20th Amateur Baseball World Series.

In 1980, alter having enjoyed a few years of semi-early retirement in Nicaragua, René had to take again the responsibility of broadcasting in Spanish, this time in Arlington, Texas, for the Texas Rangers. He was the main announcer in Spanish for this team, and started a new and historic page in the annals of Major Leagues Baseball, because for the first time the American League was broadcasting in Spanish for the U.S. and Mexico baseball fans.

The Texas Rangers broadcasting program required intensive traveling, which since 1981 René masterfully combined with his responsibilities as Assistant to the President of KLVL, the dean of the Spanish radio stations in Houston, where he also acted as Programming Director and as its sports Producer/Director.

In 1982 René reentered the very prestigious Los Angeles Dodgers baseball organization, this time as support announcer to who once was his pupil, Jaime Jarrín. They were going to work together for the next 16 years, bringing about excitement and great moments through radio and television for thousands and thousands of Spanish fans in the U.S., Mexico and other countries. From 1987 to 1989 he was co-responsible for the weekly TV show called "Arriba Dodgers", on Univision's KMEX, channel 34, in Los Angeles, California. René Cárdenas interviewed the Dodgers' players and commented the most important aspects of the games of the preceding week.

From 1988 to 1990 René was also a TV reporter for the US Univision Network, interviewing the Dodgers' players during the Los Angeles games as well as from the other National League teams' stadiums.

In 1993 he simultaneously worked for Cadena Radio Centro (National Radio Network USA) as its baseball reporter, sending news and short comments about the Dodgers' players from the baseball fields.

From '93 to '98 René always showed his Nicaraguan roots and opened his heart and unwavering friendship to some sport journalist from Nicaragua whom he invited to his broadcasting booth at the baseball park, and sometimes he interviewed them and/or let them make some brief comments about the game they were enjoying. They were well known baseball figures in Nicaragua, such as Carlos García, Tito Rondón, Edgar Tijerino and other ones.

1998 was the year when René Cárdenas retired from the microphone, but not from the written narration and comments. He then wrote for the Crónicas de los Astros, astrosdehouston.com, Astros Magazine and the Managua, Nicaragua, newspaper La Prensa. At the same time he created his own Major League Baseball website www.laestufacaliente.com a non commercial page with the contribution of the most distinguish Spanish baseball writers of the world.

It is a fact that René never retired from baseball. His outstanding experience is still being enjoyed by numerous fans who visit the Astros Spanish language website, where since 2000 he is the feature story writer. During the 2007 baseball season, René was asked by the Astros organization to resume radio broadcasting in Spanish and he traveled once again to the baseball parks of the Major Leagues to the delight of the U.S. Hispanic baseball fans.

For the 2008 baseball season, the Houston Astros organization top management decided to make history once more. For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, an excellent technical team was put together by the Astros and Fox Sports Network to initiate the free standing production of TV baseball broadcast in Spanish of a selected group of games from the Minute Maid Park. To start this new baseball era, none other than René Cárdenas was asked to lead this effort in the city where Hispanics are now the largest ethnic group. Currently the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce calls itself the Leader of Houston's new majority. They recently unveiled their Strategic Plan for the next 10 years and the Houston Astros were a few steps ahead when its top management decided to pioneer a free-standing effort with a complete first rate team headed by Cárdenas to fulfill the baseball TV broadcasting wants of this new majority in the 4th largest U.S. city.

The Astros organization is showing a vision that only belongs to true leaders, one that will have to be followed by the rest of the Major Leagues teams and they could not have selected a better leader to do the TV broadcasting in Spanish, live, with the class and professionalism of the man who initiated Baseball Broadcasting in Spanish radio in the U.S., René Cárdenas. All included, radio, TV and written journalism, René has had a strong tie with the Astros organization that covers 23 years.

I hope this truly brief summary of the life of René Cárdenas, who has given glory to his country of origin, Nicaragua, in some measure motivates our youth to excel. It was not easy for René in those days to make the kind of exemplary life history he made, and in some measure opening the doors to many others who have come after him. God Bless America, land of opportunity for those committed to excel through hard work, integrity and persistence