Share This Episode
Our American Stories Lee Habeeb Logo

Ken Kendrick: The Small Town West Virginian With a World Series Ring

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2023 3:01 am

Ken Kendrick: The Small Town West Virginian With a World Series Ring

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 980 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

March 14, 2023 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the remarkable life story of Ken Kendrick, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ principal owner and general managing partner.

Support the show (

See for privacy information.


What up, it's dramas from the Life as a Gringo podcast.

We are back with a brand new season. Now Life as a Gringo speaks to Latinos who are born or raised here in the States. It's about educating and breaking those generational curses that man have been holding us back for far too long. I'm here to discuss the topics that are relevant to all of us and to define what it means to live as our true authentic self.

Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

I'm Malcolm Grabber. I live way out in the country. I drive everywhere.

And you know what scares me? That feeling of finding myself stuck on the side of the road. But now all of us can avoid that pain by getting our vehicle the part it needs before that breakdown oh no moment. With eBay Guaranteed Fit and over 122 million parts and accessories, you can make sure your ride stays running smoothly. For the parts and accessories that fit your vehicle, just look for the green check. Get the right parts, the right fit, and the right prices. Let's ride. Eligible items only.

Exclusions apply. Mom. Dad. Let's talk.

Before you know it, I'm out of here. I want to go to college. Or start a business.

My allowance ain't gonna cut it. The Younest app puts smart investing tools right in the palm of your hand. And with the Younest gifting link, friends and family can contribute to your child's account. Download the Younest app and use the code IR25 at signup to receive a $25 bonus when you fund your account.

See terms and conditions at That's U-N-E-S-T dot C-O. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show. From the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between. Including your stories. Send them to

They're some of our favorites. And now Alex Cortez brings us the life story of Ken Kendrick, the principal owner and managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the baseball team. A gig he probably didn't expect to have as a child.

Here's Alex. Ken Kendrick grew up in the small town of Princeton, West Virginia. I had the great good fortune when you look back on your life when you're my age. And I know that I had great fortune in growing up in a small town.

Not a place of wealth, but it was a place of great comfort to have great friends that you started out and I even today have my group of friends from that time called my Sandbox Friends. And we celebrated as a group our 75th birthdays all from the same little town, the same little kindergarten, the same 12 grades until we all went off to college. And I'll give you one story that's one of my great, now that I'm in the world of sports, one of my greatest sports exploits, which once I tell this, you will realize I didn't have very many great sports exploits, was as a 14-year-old, our baseball team as a pony league, 13 and 14-year-old was a pretty darn good team. And we competed to go to the World Series and we were in a double elimination tournament one game away from going to the World Series of the Pony League, which would have been when Washington, Pennsylvania was where they played their like Williamsport to Little Egg, Washington, PA is to the Pony League.

So we're in the final, we now have the game where we're playing a team, they've already been defeated once, and we have to beat them once to go and they have to beat us twice. There were three of us that were the core guys on the team. My one friend was the catcher, I was the first baseman, and our third friend was the pitcher. And our pitcher was really good. He was geared to be the pitcher, so we were going to win the game. And sure enough, we get to the last inning and we're ahead 5-2. All we have to do is get them out and all of a sudden, my friend the pitcher can't throw the ball over the plate. And he just goes completely wild, he can't throw it over the plate. Eventually they load the bases with walks and of course the next guy hits a grand slam home run and we lose the game 6-5.

I lose my temper as a result of this and I go after my dear friend and I had evil in my heart. And my friend the catcher got in between us and looked me in the eye, we're 14 years old, and he said to me, Ken, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Wayne. Get your act together, we got another game to play. And unfortunately we lost that other game. But it was as close as I ever got to any real great success as a player in sports. And those two guys were my lifetime friends. Sadly, the catcher, the guy that was wise beyond his years, Don, passed away some years ago with ALS. But my friend Wayne and I are still in close touch.

Even this morning we were texting. So that's a story of childhood that could have come out of some other place. But it came out of that town that I grew up in and left a big impression on me, especially the maturity of a 14-year-old boy, my friend Don.

And I spoke at Don's memorial and I honored him by telling that story because, you know, it was a really an important thing for him to do because maybe my friendships would have been fractured because I was very angry and very upset and felt like I had to blame my other friend which was wrong. And I went through a whole iteration of things that I learned from sports. In that same era, the baseball team in these towns, they have all-star teams that compete in these tournaments. And so we had an all-star team and it was very good and I was their coach. And I had this group of young guys that, you know, really looked up to me.

I now know they did but I didn't think about it much then. I'm just trying to make them play as well as... And I had a lot of rules. I was a very hard coach, maybe hard to play for. And several years ago after I'm involved in major league baseball, I get a package in the mail and a letter. And it's from one of the kids that played on my team when they were 12 and 13 years of age. And he said, I'm completing my bucket list and there is a baseball I want you to sign for me and return to be a part of my bucket list. And he said, the reason that I want it is that you taught me one of my great life's lessons when you were my coach. He went on in his letter to explain that the lesson was that he pitched a perfect game, no-hitter with me as his coach.

And he's facing the very last batter and he gets an 0-2 count on him. And he said, I threw my very best fastball right down the middle and he swung and missed and I had a perfect game, no-hitter. And everybody was so excited, but you weren't. He said, I saw you standing over to the side, not celebrating. And finally I came over and I said, coach, why aren't you celebrating? He said, Bobby, what did I teach you? And I taught him what you should always do as a pitcher. When you have an 0-2 count on the batter, you've got him under control.

You don't throw the ball right down the middle. And I had taught him never to do that and he did it. And even though he was successful, I didn't even. And he said, I've always carried that through my whole life. And he said, I just, I feel like I need your name on a baseball to put in my bucket list. And you're listening to Ken Kendrick tell his story growing up in a small town, Princeton, West Virginia, not a place of wealth, but a place, he said, of great comfort. When we come back, more of the story of Ken Kendrick here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love what we tell, and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's our american Excuse me, did you know that when you use the Roto app to buy a car, Roto actually finds all the secret available rebates and discounts specific to you. So the price I see is my unique price? That's right, the lowest and best. Does Roto do this for every customer or just customers named Catherine? Well, that depends.

Wait, how do you spell Catherine? K-A-T-H-E-S. Just kidding, it's for every customer. Get every rebate and discount available and save big on your next car with Roto. Download the Roto app or check out With so many streaming devices out there today, what sets Roku apart? Roku players are made for one thing, to get you the entertainment you want quick and easy. That means a simple home screen with your favorites front and center, channels like iHeartRadio that launch in a snap, and curated TV channels. Not to mention all the free TV you can stream, including over 300 free live channels on the Roku channel. Find the perfect Roku player for you today at

Happy streaming. And we continue with our American stories and the story of Ken Kendrick, who just so happens now to be the principal owner and general managing partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. But how did that happen? Here is Ken talking about the story of his life and him becoming an entrepreneur.

Well, it's been a long and windy road. I started out in my very early years out of college. I worked for the IBM company. Well, it was a subsidiary of the IBM company. It was when they were first getting into the software world. They had a subsidiary company and I was employed in sales and learned an enormous amount. It was my graduate school. You worked out of a local office, but you went off for training, you would come back.

And it went over 16 months or something. So time in the office, time in classroom, and you know, it's a little bit like you're going to go to live in Spain. And if you can just speak some of the language, you're better than if you speak none of it. So I learned the technology side of the business at the level of a broken Spanish, but it was helpful because I could identify with the things that needed to happen to design a system to do whatever process my business client needed. I benefited more from that than I would have benefited from going to business school. I've never looked back to go to business school.

So it's just my conclusion of what they taught me. I was able to go out and be successful early on with the IBM company and built enough confidence that allowed me to say, Hey, I think I could maybe succeed in my own business. And of course I didn't know what I didn't know and ran into a lot of obstacles. I always remember my exit interview in our office with the wizened veteran veteran. You know, he seemed very old to me because I'm in my, I'm 24 going on being 25.

And this fellow is in his sixties and he's the senior citizen in the office. Bruce Smith was his name is a wonderful man. And he called me in and he said, look, Kenny said, I want to tell you, I think you have a lot of skills. You've done a great job for us. He said, I want you to understand that often people starting their own business don't succeed.

And I hope that you will, but I want you to know you would have a home here if you wanted to come back. And then he said, and I want to give you some advice about being in business. He said, you're going to have a lot of dark days. And, and, and, and he said, the thing that I would tell you, you need to learn to do is manage your time because there's going to be a lot of demands on you.

And he said, you know, time, time has two measurements, length and intensity. And he said, I would advise you to be intense about how you use your time. I think he was a wise man and he wished me well. And I think it was, it was really valuable to me to know that I was well enough respected there that I could come crawling back if it didn't work out. Which is a huge gift to an aspiring entrepreneur, a sense of security that many don't have. This would be more than 50 years ago.

It's why I remember the conversation just like it was yesterday and the vividness of that advice he gave to me. The software world was just really getting started. The word software was not born.

You know, it was hardware programming and systems design, et cetera worked into the word software. So my friend thought that we could go out and start our own software company. And we did. And it was a struggle from day two.

I think we celebrated on day one, but on day two, it began the reality of what starting and operating a business really is. Within a year, my friend who had a family and was very capable guy, you know, we were struggling financially. He got an opportunity to go with a very large banking company in their technology group and he decided to leave. And so here I am stuck, you know, now without my original partner and a group of people who backed us and we were on the edge of failure. And I felt a sense of duty, you know, that I couldn't really give up. And so in year two of my company, I called the staff together and did two things. Went to the staff and said, look, we have to make some real sacrifices here. We need to all look at ourselves and determine what pay cuts we can take to keep this going. And I will agree for the next year to work for free. I won't take a salary and each of the rest of you, I would like you to think what you can do. I then was able to go to my outside investors and say, look, here's where we are. Here's what we all have agreed to do.

And I need each of you to consider whether you will make another investment to give us a chance to make it. And most of them did. And we continued to operate and, you know, hard work tends to pay off. And within the second year, we hit on a client relationship with a substantial local company who signed to be a customer, a very large customer. And that kind of got us to the point where we were in the black and we operated for a couple of years. And then I met my now more than 50 year partner who had a similar story and we decided the two small businesses made a merger of a 50-50 deal. It's now a world-renowned software company, the largest company in the world, providing enterprise software to run colleges and universities.

A company called Datatel with thousands of employees worldwide. Later, Ken became one of the founding investors of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who achieved their greatest triumph of winning the 2001 World Series against a Yankees team whose city just endured their greatest tragedy of the September 11th terrorist attacks. One of the saddest and yet most rewarding my World Series ring and the inscription on the inside says 9-11-01 never forget. And of course, that was the Diamondbacks One World Championship.

And you know, I was proud to be on the edges of that. And there were so many things that were memorable, searing, vivid memories, some of which the entirety of the country watched. The sports part of it was the rebirth of sports tied into 9-11. You know, the baseball I think took a great lead in and the first World Series game played in New York City and George Bush throwing out the first pitch.

The president of the United States. And prior to the first pitch, he's down under the stadium. You know, there's pitching areas and hitting areas under these stadiums.

So he's under the stadium and the Yankee side of the stadium warming up, throwing some pitches in private. And Derek Jeter comes in and sees him and walks through and he sees him and so he comes over being the most prominent Yankee player and he comes over and you know, hello, Mr. President, glad you're here, glad you're going to be throwing the first pitch. By the way, Mr. President, are you going to stand on the rubber, on the mound? And the president said, yeah, I guess so. He said, you better. If you don't, they will boo you. Because most of the celebrities, you don't get up on the mound because it's tough if you're not used to it.

You stand down in front on the flat ground and then throwing a ball on the flat ground, you know, I can do that. So all of a sudden the president, he said, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. And he said, I froze up. And he goes out and you don't know that you're there watching, of course, as a fan, you don't know this has happened. You just see him walk out, you know, and the crowd's just one of these emotional moments, marches right up onto the pitcher's mound, throws a perfect strike. And it was a searing moment with intense drama and unbelievable security in the ballpark. I mean, it's hard to communicate how uptight everybody was, believing that an attack could occur on the ballpark. When we come back, more of this remarkable life story.

Ken Kenfield story here on our American story. Ready to play some tennis. Let's do it. Are you going to put your phone away? No, Roto makes it so easy to buy a car. I can do both at once. It's really that easy.

Yeah. With the Roto app, I can shop thousands of cars from local dealers, buy the one I want right from my phone and have it delivered to my house for free. I'm going to try it.

Not a good idea, Jim. Downloading the app now. And I dropped my phone. Download the Roto app or check out when you're not playing a sport.

The easiest way to buy or sell a car right from your phone. You wouldn't settle for watching a blurry TV, would you? So why settle for just okay TV sound? Upgrade your streaming and sound all in one with Roku stream bar. This powerful two in one upgrade for any TV lets you stream your favorite entertainment. You can also use the Roto app to get your any TV lets you stream your favorite entertainment in brilliant 4k HDR picture and hear every detail with auto speech clarity.

Whether you're hosting a party or just cleaning the house, turn it up and rock out with iHeartRadio and room filling sound. Learn more about Roku stream bar today at Happy streaming. Another week, another free pass to entertainment. Check out all the shows and movies you can watch with Xfinity Flex.

No strings attached. Face the darkness in the season two premiere of Yellow Jackets from Showtime. Crack open the history vault and dig into shows like America, The Story of Us. Then watch free picks from networks like Disney Story Central and more with the kids. Give your ear some love with Hit Nation Junior on iHeartRadio. Easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming apps.

Say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote. And we continue with our American stories and the final portion of Ken Kendrick's remarkable life story. And Ken now tells the story of his great hobby that his mom helped inspire. The thing my mother did better than any other and all of my friends from childhood would now agree was every one of us as young boys got into collecting baseball cards because that's what you do when you're a certain age. And we would march down to the five and ten cent store with a quarter in hand, buy five packs of baseball cards and we would eat the bubble gum and trade the baseball cards. And then we would bring them home and you eventually grow out of doing that and mostly those cards disappear somehow. But we now have acknowledged that my mother was the best mom ever because she kept my baseball cards and I still have my baseball cards and none of my friends have theirs.

And of course they say theirs were better than mine but we will never know because I have mine thanks to my mother. So I decided after I got my cards I realized there was value there and I got enamored so I began to look for valuable cards and I have near 50. And what my collection has become is unquestionably the most well-recognized elite card collection in the world. And includes the Honus Wagner card which has a whole book written about it called The Card and has been titled The Mona Lisa of Cards. There are fewer than 30 of them known to exist. The cards are more than 100 years old.

A lot of folklore about why there are so few. In the era of Honus Wagner who was a player in the early 1900s and one of the original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cards were produced by tobacco companies and they were inserted into the packs of tobacco either tins of tobacco or I guess wrappers I'm not sure I know exactly. Anyway as you bought your tobacco product you got a card and the advertising on the back is that they didn't put the player's performance data as they do in later years but in the old days the tobacco companies used it for advertising and that happens to be Piedmont who was one of the prominent cigarette or tobacco companies because they sold a lot of loose tobacco in those days in the early 1900s. And the popular legend is that there's not a lot of Honus Wagner cards because he was opposed to tobacco and told them to stop making the card.

That is a story it's a part of the legend but I think I know enough about it. He was a cigar smoker so he was a smoker but this tobacco company the belief now is that the legend of him being anti-tobacco was not true but that they the tobacco company wasn't willing to pay him what he thought was a fair amount to use his image and he required them to stop printing therefore a scarcity of these cards versus others of his peers in those days. What I have gotten to do and I did it even today I help other people who have collections and don't know anything about what to do to monetize them. Generally there are older people who have inherited from some now long deceased family member example I'm working with a family right now who has a collection from their grandfather four grandchildren of a gentleman born in 1896 who based on his age collected all of these very prominent cards in the era of in the era of Honus Wagner and Christy Matheson and Walter Johnson and all that great collected these tobacco cards as a kid and this family has inherited his collection been in the family all these years went through their parents who are now gone to these siblings and the cards have never been graded they really don't know what they have exactly they know something about it and they have a collection of nearly 3,000 cards most all of which are 100 years old.

Now the cards are not of the highest grade because I've seen them digitize photos but anything in baseball that's from 100 years old has some value. Well they called me they read a story about me I didn't know what to do and they called me out of the blue. You didn't know them? I'm never no I don't I've never met them yet I know their names and I've texted and emailed and phone called but I've been working with them for about a month or a little longer helping them learn the setting that their inheritance is so that when they go to the professionals to monetize because that's what they want to do they will be not as naive as as they started and I've sent them a couple of books and spent more hours than I probably should have but I just think man I want these guys to get every penny that what they have is worth I've done this 50 times. Why do I do it? Well I love the game I love the collecting I love that people have things you know that I can help them learn about and benefit from that I don't want someone because there are many people who would take advantage of them and I don't want to see that happen to somebody and I do that as something that I think it's my duty to try to help people to a point I can't give my life over to doing it and I don't have a sign out although now that you're gonna publish what I'm telling you I may start a new business and become a broker. And now Ken shares a final sports story about his son Cal when he was 11 years old. He's a little league ball player he's on a very very competitive team really really good team good coaching outstanding players and you know he's a decent player on the team and I go to their games and I make it a absolute solemn promise to myself I will never make criticisms of these kids you know because I'm in the business I'm in and I'm a parent but I you know if I say something like parents are always chirping at the coach chirping at the players I never do that I just enjoy watching I'm proud of them I'm glad he does well and I cringe when he doesn't and so this one game was a night game and now we're in the car and it's fairly late and we're driving home he's in the back seat and I start talking out of the blue inexplicably I began to analyze his horrible performance and I say I can't believe that guy struck you out and I can't you know and it's like I get on a rant and he's totally silent and finally he says daddy I said yeah Cal he said you do understand I'm not going to ever do this for a living and you know back to the young person you know in the anyway the young person's wisdom overcoming you may be the older person's kind of losing touch with what he or she may be doing maybe should be doing in this case me I shouldn't have been ranting on my son's performance so anyway he's a he's a very special young man and I'm proud of him as I am my daughter and you've been listening to Ken Kendrick great job as always to Alex for finding this story doing the introductions and the interviews and great job to you and to you and to you and great job to Robbie on the production and what a voice you just heard and that's what we love doing here on the show we just tell folks stories whether they own a baseball team or a body shop it doesn't matter to us everyone's the same people live their lives differently and beautifully so many of them I love that last story about his son Cal dad you do understand I'm not going to do this for a living and sometimes our kids have wisdom and teach us stuff I know mine does Ken Kendrick's story a beauty here on our American stories specific to you so the price I see is my unique price that's right the lowest and best does Roto do this for every customer or just customers named Catherine well that depends wait how do you spell Catherine k-a-t-h just kidding it's for every customer get every rebate and discount available and say big on your next car with Roto download the Roto app or check out another week another free pass to entertainment check out all the shows and movies you can watch with Xfinity Flex no strings attached face the darkness in the season 2 premiere of yellow jackets from Showtime crack open the history vault and dig into shows like America the story of us then watch free picks from networks like Disney story central and more with the kids give your ears some love with hit nation jr on iHeartRadio easily discover new free content each week across the best streaming apps say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 04:33:52 / 2023-03-14 04:45:38 / 12

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime