EDMONTON - When a guy grows up hanging around with the Beatles and Rolling Stones, with Liv Tyler as his stepsister and a rock and roll tour bus as his second home, it takes a lot to get him excited.
It takes something huge, like Maui landing a minor-league baseball team.
It probably didn’t cause a ripple anywhere outside of Maui, but the Golden League expanding to the Islands means that Rex Rundgren gets to close out his baseball career in front of his old man, rock legend and longtime Hawaii resident Todd Rundgren.
“It’s awesome,” said the 33-year-old shortstop and Florida Marlins draft pick. “I’m nearing the end of my career so I figured I’d go play in Hawaii and enjoy myself for the last couple of years. I have a lot of friends and family there.”
The homecoming completes a full circle for Rundgren, who chose to stay behind in California to pursue university baseball when his father moved to Kauai back in 1996.
In the 14 years since, Todd would have to make special trips to the mainland or sneak out from concert tours to watch his son. Now he’ll be playing in the backyard again, so to speak.
“I’m really looking forward to it, and so is he,” said Rundgren, who closes out the series in Edmonton this weekend.
“It should be fun. I heard there’s a pretty good buzz around the island. They used to have a Triple-A team out there that used to sell out a lot of games, so we’ll find out.”
Rock-star fathers aren’t exactly every day occurences in minor-league ball, or Little League, for that matter, but nothing about his childhood seemed all that unusual. At least not at the time.
“We always had famous people coming in and out of the house,” he said.
“The Rolling Stones, I know a couple of the Beatles. Mostly the older (rock stars). And the travelling was pretty cool; I got to see a lot of places.
“It was kind of normal for me, I enjoyed it. But now that I’m older I can see why it was such a special thing. Back when I was a kid I just thought it was normal.”
He realized in high school that Todd wasn’t just dad, but somebody special.
“I started seeing what kind of an impact he had on his fans. Seeing the reaction he gets is pretty cool. As you get older you really notice that kind of stuff.”
Like Todd Rundgren picked up a guiter as a child and fell in love instantly, it was the same with Rex and a bat.
“I could hear (music) pretty well, but I just never really tried playing it. I’ve always been busy with sports. My dad was on the road a lot and I had nothing to do so they threw me into the park and I played games with my friends.”
Rundgren, whose younger brother, Randy, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2004, spent nine years in the minors. He made it as high as Triple-A for two seasons, one break away from the big stage.
“I was close,” he smiled. “You never know when the right person is watching.”
The right person will be watching when they get back to Hawaii. Despite their different career paths, Todd and Rex still have plenty in common — a nomadic, road-trip lifestyle doing what they love.
“It is kind of similar,” said Rex. “Only the buses we ride on are a lot less comfortable.”