Dodgertown Memories

Rene Cardenas

Dodger Broadcaster
1958–61, 1982–1998

Dodger Spanish-language broadcaster Rene Cardenas (left), who helped pioneer games in Los Angeles, first visited Dodgertown in 1959. He is shown at Dodger Stadium with his longtime on-air partner and Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrin.

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Rene Cardenas has always shown a passion for baseball. He pioneering journey in major league baseball broadcasting began with the Dodgers in 1958 on KWKW Radio in Los Angeles. As a young sports enthusiast in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua, Cardenas had been a 16-year-old sports writer for La Estrella de Nicaragua and later wrote for La Prensa as a baseball columnist. With his knowledge of sports, he then started to handle radio broadcasts in his home country, as a commentator for baseball, basketball and boxing. Although he established a successful start to his broadcasting career in Nicaragua, Cardenas was anxious to find opportunities and make a name for himself in the United States. Thus, Cardenas was the Spanish-language voice of the Dodgers for their first four seasons in Los Angeles. The Dodgers played at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and Cardenas was on hand in his hanging box near the tunnel entrance to capture the play-by-play. He also broadcast his first World Series in 1959, when the Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox and played before record crowds of 92,000-plus for three home games. Cardenas would later establish the Spanish-language radio broadcasts for the Houston Astros, where he was on air from 1962-75, before returning to Nicaragua to broadcast sports and serve as sports editor for La Prensa. But, he and his wife Jilma had to flee the country leaving their property and belongings during political unrest. After another stint in Houston and with the Texas Rangers, eventually, Cardenas returned to Los Angeles in 1982 to re-join Jaime Jarrin on Dodger radio. In 1992, he received a prestigious award from the Nicaraguan government for his significant contributions to the development of baseball in that country and throughout the world. Cardenas was elected to the Houston Astros Hall of Fame class of 2024 at Minute Maid Park on January 20, 2024, with induction ceremonies on August 17, 2024.

My first year in Dodgertown was in 1959 with the barracks. I remember how cold they were, how dark they were, how mysterious they were. But, we had a great time, because we loved baseball, so it didn’t matter where we were sleeping as long as we were looking at those fantastic baseball stars that the Dodgers had in those years. Everybody was together on base.

(Walter O’Malley) was always playing cards. There was a small bar on one side. Only a few people used to go there. I used to go there only to have a drink. I never sat down with the ‘big hitters’ to play poker or anything like that. But, they were having a great time every night and I went there and I saw them all the time. There was a lot of happiness in those nights that we were there. In 1959, I was broadcasting in Los Angeles, but not from Vero. I went there only just to familiarize myself with all the new players and things like that. When the new villas came in, I thought I was in Hawaii! Those bungalows were beautiful and Peter (O’Malley) kept up with all the fields – they were beautiful. The stadium was just wonderful and the palm trees were getting bigger and bigger and more flowers and more water in the river. It was just like paradise!

Rene Cardenas