Wednesday, May 26, 1999
Mid-Pac's Rex Rundgren isn't followingBy Cindy Luis
in the footsteps of his music-making father.
Instead of 'Something/Anything?' he's got
'Everything' ...it takes to be a
Somehow, he always seems to get there. And makes the play.
Rex Rundgren has made spectacular seem ordinary, throwing runners out at first from his knees or from deep in the hole at short, making leaps of faith of several feet that take him airborne for catches that rob opponents of sure hits.
Rundgren has been a ball magnet for the Mid-Pacific Institute baseball team for three seasons. Now that his high school career is over, the shortstop is ready to take a cue from one of his father's hit songs: "Hello, It's Me."
Rex Rundgren will be waiting for that call a week from today when Major League Baseball has its amateur free agent draft. He's been waiting 13 years, ever since he played in his first Little League game in the Bay Area.
"From the first time I played at age 5, that's all I wanted to do," said Rundgren, a legitimate pro prospect at 6-foot-2. "My parents never pressured me. I just wanted to play whenever I could."
Rundgren thought his dream would be curtailed when his father, singer Todd "Runt" Rundgren, moved the family from California to Kauai in 1996. Rex was offered two choices: board at Mid-Pac or attend one of the Garden Isle's high schools.
"I didn't want to leave California," he said. "It was hard at first. But boarding has been OK. I've met lots of people and learned to live on my own."
It didn't hurt that the backyard of the dormitory was the Owls' manicured baseball field. Rundgren said he'd take advantage of his free time to go to the field, using the batting cage and taking grounders whenever he could.
It has paid off. Rundgren's been contacted by at least five Major League teams and "he's got pro potential," said Mid-Pac coach Dunn Muramaru. "He's the best defensive shortstop I've ever seen."
Rundgren was discouraged from playing other sports for fear an injury would hurt his chance for a pro baseball career. But he did play wide receiver for Pac-Five and made all-league in basketball this season.
While Rundgren enjoyed dabbling at football and basketball, his passion has always been baseball. And he likes Hawaii baseball better than that in California.
"The competition is better here," said Rundgren. "In California, the pitchers just try to throw as hard as they can to blow it by you. The pitchers here are smart and they think. The ILH had so many good players this year."
Rundgren was one of them. He hit .350 and made just two errors in 25 games this season as the Owls went from fourth place in the ILH to runners-up in the state tournament last Friday.
Mid-Pac (17-8) won 10 of 11 games before falling to Molokai, 6-2; Rundgren was named to the all-tournament team.
"I"m happy for Molokai," he said. "They're not known for much and it's good they have something to brag about.
"We had a good season. Three weeks ago, people didn't think we'd be in the state tournament, but our coach said never to give up. We just put everything on the line and took one game at a time."
And so it will be this summer. One day at a time, drafted or not. Rundgren will again be playing summer ball in San Francisco.
Rundgren said the strangest thing about being the son of a music star was watching people come up to his father, asking for an autograph.
"Maybe he'll be watching people do that to me one of these days," said Rex Rundgren.
Muramaru doesn't doubt it.
"After we lost (Friday), we took a bus back to campus," said the Mid-Pac coach. "I didn't know what to say. So I told the boys to grab a baseball and have Rex sign it. You never know what it might be worth some day.
"We were fortunate to see him play every day and didn't appreciate how good he was until we put other players at that position."