Hometown Heroes

Jessica Mendoza in the ESPN broadcast booth, Nationals Stadium

Baseball games gather families, neighbors, and friends to foster support networks and community ties. Hometown team traditions have been particularly strong in areas with large Latino communities.

The experiences of Major League Baseball star Anthony Rendon and broadcaster Jessica Mendoza resonate as stories of sacrifice and success. Their families and communities supported them along their paths. Though different, Rendon and Mendoza demonstrate what it means to be hometown heroes.

Players and journalists build connections between baseball in the barrios and the big leagues, and between Latino players and fans. These barrier-breakers embody the passion and history that connects Latinas/os and America’s game.


Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon’s story is one to which many aspiring athletes can relate. Born to a Mexican American, mixed-race family of modest means in Houston, Texas, Rendon honed his talents over many years. He is one of many Latino hometown heroes who inspire the next generation.

Anthony Rendon’s YMCA baseball card

Rendon’s first baseball team sparked his drive to challenge himself to be better.

Gift of Rene and Bridget Rendon

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Washington Nationals baseball card, 2011

Gift of Anthony Rendon

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The Washington Nationals drafted Anthony Rendon sixth overall in the first round of the 2011 Amateur Draft.


Jessica Mendoza

In August 2015 Mendoza, from Camarillo, California, became the first woman to serve as commentator for Major League Baseball on ESPN. Later that year she became the first woman in MLB history to call a post-season game. From Clemente to Alvarado to Mendoza, Latinas/os are part of critical changes to the sport and often endured discrimination as they served as icons for others.

Jessica Mendoza in the ESPN broadcast booth, Nationals Stadium, Washington, D.C., 2019

Jessica Mendoza in the ESPN broadcast booth, Nationals Stadium, Washington, D.C., 2019

National Museum of American History, photograph by Jaclyn Nash

Jessica Mendoza’s ESPN media credentials, 2015

Gift of Jessica Mendoza

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Jessica Mendoza has called games for the College World Series and Major League Baseball.

Softball player Jessica Mendoza's Olympic ring, Athens, Greece, 2004

Softball player Jessica Mendoza's Olympic ring, Athens, Greece, 2004

Courtesy of Jessica Mendoza