Kendall's longevity celebrated by Royals

Kendall's longevity celebrated by Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Just before Jason Kendall took the field for the 2,014th time as a catcher on Friday, the Royals honored him for his perseverance and longevity.

Kendall was presented with a plaque of a full-sized, blue-and-gold catcher's mask, a framed jersey bearing the No. 2,000 and a montage of photos from his games. The Kauffman Stadium crowd saw video highlights from his years with the Pirates, A's, Cubs, Brewers and Royals.

"It's very flattering, very cool," Kendall said. "A very, very classy organization -- classiest organization I've been connected with."

Kendall is just the fifth catcher in Major League history to reach the 2,000 mark in games behind the plate, joining Ivan Rodriguez (2,363), Carlton Fisk (2,226), Bob Boone (2,225) and Gary Carter (2,056).

"A lot of squatting," Kendall said.

Kendall is especially proud of the fact that he came back from a serious ankle dislocation in 1999, his fourth year of Major League play, to reach that level. That injury was so devastating that many of what he calls "naysayers" thought his career was over.

"I heard that a lot," he said. "If not done, that he wouldn't come back as the same player. So it's something that I'm definitely proud of. I'll keep going, I enjoy the game."

Royals manager Ned Yost, a former catcher who also managed him at Milwaukee, appreciates what Kendall has accomplished.

"His day starts early, he's always the first one in the locker room. And he doesn't sit in his chair all day long. He changes clothes, goes straight to the video room, starts watching the opposing hitters, starts formulating his game plan for his starter that day," Yost said.

"He's always in the cage early, taking swings. He's always out here for BP, then he's meeting with the pitcher on the game plan. Then endures whatever the weather has for him -- cold, hot. Getting beat with foul balls. Very seldom do you see him running back to the screen to retrieve balls that have gotten by him. And that takes a toll on you; there's always balls that bounce off your wrist, your arm, your shoulder, your neck, your collarbone, your thighs that hurt. But you've never know it by watching him.

"And those things all add up. The daily grind of getting up, getting down that take a toll on a body and he perseveres every single day through all that. He's very strong mentally and he just comes to play and comes to win."

Kendall and his dad, Fred Kendall, belong with a rather exclusive fraternity of Major League father-son combination. Fred Kendall caught 795 games in his career with San Diego, Cleveland and Boston, which gives them a total of 2,809.

"He told me one day -- and I remember it well -- that we broke the father-son catching record," Kendall said. "He said, 'Keep going! Don't let anybody break it.'"

In fact, Kendall will soon overtake their nearest competitors on his own. Randy and Todd Hundley combined for 2,122 games caught.

"What he's done is pretty amazing," Yost said.