Hall of Famer Todd Rundgren's Greatest Hits: Rex & Randy Rundgren, 2 Minor League Baseball Players
While not the bio-dad, he raised actress, Liv Tyler. But, few know Todd has two sons who played pro baseball...a sport about which Dad originally knew nothing!
Well, he didn’t attend the official ceremonies, but Todd Rundgren is finally a Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame inductee, after a couple years of being a nominee. Multi-hit songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and video vanguard, the 73-year-old is still performing shows regularly.
In fact, he was onstage the night of the Rock Hall’s induction shindig…just not on THAT stage, the one in Cleveland on October 30, 2021.
If it’s any consolation to the Rock Hall, he was in the same state, though. Todd was doing his own show 250 miles away in Cincinnati that night, and no, there wasn’t a cut-in or video feed to tape Todd’s reaction.
"[The fans are] the ones who wanted it. And now they’ve got it. So it’s a celebration for them, not so much for me.”
"I don’t know; it’s been up and down and in and out with them,” Todd explained in a recent interview with Ultimate Classic Rock. “My relationship with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, quite obviously, it’s not copacetic. I have offered to do something live for them from my [Cincinnati] venue. I will stop my show and acknowledge the award and mostly acknowledge my fans, because it’s for them.
"They’re the ones who wanted it," he continued. "And now they’ve got it. So it’s a celebration for them, not so much for me. I’ve been totally willing to do that. But for me to do something extraordinary for the Hall of Fame would just be hypocritical. You know, I’m too much on the record about my feelings."
“The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect”
Rex Rundgren and Randy Rundgren were baseball playing anomalies. They’re the sons of a famous personality who’s now in the Hall of Fame, but their father never played baseball. In fact, Rex and Randy Rundgren may be the only “legacy” ballplayers in history to have a rock star as a parent.
Todd has admitted to never being a fan of baseball until Rex and his younger brother made it their careers; it’s interesting, now, to discover that both sons have become ardent fans of their father’s music.
Todd Rundgren, along with being an accomplished hitmaker himself (“Hello It’s Me,” “Bang on the Drum All Day,” “I Saw the Light”), has produced albums by such disparate artists as Meat Loaf, Hall & Oates, XTC, and The New York Dolls.
Rex Gregory Rundgren, the first ballplaying Rundgren, was born in New York City on November 20, 1980, eight months before MTV was born with the playing of the music video for The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” on August 1, 1981.
In fact, Todd Rundgren’s “Time Heals” (recorded right around the time of Rex’s birth, and featuring Todd on all instruments and vocals) was the eighth video ever aired on MTV, playing on the new cable network within its very first hour.
Liv and Let Live
Making the rounds of the gossip columns more than three years before Rex’s birth, though, was the emergence of his half-sister, actress Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings), originally dubbed Liv Rundgren.
From 1972 to 1979, model/singer Bebe Buell lived with Todd. In 1976, she became unexpectedly pregnant after a brief relationship with Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler. Buell gave birth on July 1, 1977, naming her daughter Liv Rundgren, and claiming originally that Todd Rundgren was the biological father.
By that point, Rundgren and Buell had ended their relationship, but Todd nevertheless signed the birth certificate and acted as a father figure to Liv, including paying for her education.
“Todd Rundgren was my father,” explained Liv, in a 2011 interview with the UK’s Wonderland Magazine. “Todd basically decided when I was born that I needed a father, so he signed my birth certificate. He knew that there was a chance that I might not be his, but…Todd was my father. He lived in Woodstock. I’m so grateful to him, I have so much love for him.”
Rundgren then had a long-term relationship with the red-haired model Karen Darvin (ex-girlfriend of Bruce Springsteen in the mid-70s), with whom he had two sons, Rex and the other ballplaying Rundgren, Randy, who was born in 1985.
Rex and Randy later gained another half-brother: In 1998, Todd married Michele Gray, who had been a dancer with The Tubes, for whom Todd produced the Love Bomb album in 1985. Together, they have a son, Rebop Rundgren.
Glove is the Answer
Todd, a resident of Hawaii when not on the road, had his son Rex attend Honolulu’s Mid-Pacific Institute after being raised in Princeville on the northern coast of Kauai. The right-handed, 6’2″, 170-pounder played shortstop for the Mid-Pacific Owls, later adding second base and left field to his diamond resume.
Rex was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 24th round of the 1999 MLB Draft, but decided to attend Sacramento City College in northern California.
Randy Rundgren followed Rex’s footsteps in baseball, as well, attending Mid-Pacific Institute. Randy was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 46th round of the 2004 MLB June Amateur Draft.
“I would have liked to have signed, but it was the 46th round, and it would have been a big transition from high school,” Rundgren told The LaCrosse Tribune in 2008. “I knew I wasn’t ready.”
Like Rex, Randy also attended Sacramento City College and broke into the starting lineup in the spring of 2007. Soon thereafter, he signed with the college summer Northwoods League’s LaCrosse Loggers.
Known as a player with “limited offensive skills,” Randy nonetheless, earned the reputation as a well above-average defender.
Andy McKay, Randy’s coach at both SCC and the Loggers, happily sang Rundgren’s praises: “His arm is a tick below average and I’d bet anybody he’s the slowest player in the Northwoods League.
“But, he’s a special player because he does everything fundamentally perfect. If the other guys could take lessons from him, it’s that he does it right every single time and with limited physical ability. He’s been a great player for us.”
During one nine-game span in early June 2008, Rundgren ranked first in the Northwoods League among shortstops in total chances (52) and double plays (eight), was tied for first in assists (32), and tied for second in putouts (16) with a .923 fielding percentage.
Randy thought of his father often during home games, he told the Tribune. It would be impossible for him not to: “I’m enjoying hearing the song every time we score,” Randy said, referring to Todd’s hit, “Bang the Drum All Day.”
Growing up the son of a rock star was never a problem for Randy, also an infielder. In fact, he told the Tribune, “I didn’t really take what he did seriously until after I graduated from high school, when I got to go on tour with him for a month,” the youngest baseball-playing Rundgren said.
“I got to go to Rome, Venice, Germany, all over the place. Once I got to see him on tour, I got to respect how hard he works and what it takes to be in that business.”
Randy added that his father became a big baseball fan, following both his sons’ careers closely when they were active. “He love[d] to listen to games and watch (Web casts),” he concluded.
Having enjoyed his own brief minor league career and winning a Gold Glove award, Randy is now the head varsity baseball coach for Trinity High School in a suburb ten miles south of Cleveland (of all places), beginning his fifth year in that position.
After a couple years at Sacramento City College, Rex was drafted by the then-Florida Marlins in the 11th round of the 2001 MLB Draft.
He spent seven years toiling in the Marlins’ system, progressing apace to the team’s Double-A and AAA affiliates, before he was released by Florida following 2008’s Spring Training.
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed him soon thereafter, and he spent part of the 2008 season at their Pacific Coast League Las Vegas team, turning in a .185 average in 115 plate appearances. He was released by the Dodgers in August, and was signed to a minor league free agent contract by the Colorado Rockies, and invited to Spring Training for the 2009 season.
Rex’s combined AA batting average over five years and over 1,600 plate appearances was .232, with 41 doubles, eight triples, four homers, and a .566 OPS. His nearly two seasons in AAA with 142 plate appearances yielded a .187 BA and a .444 OPS. In his combined nine minor league seasons, Rex tallied only 168 walks to 565 strikeouts.
Three years in independent ball (2010-2012) in Maui, Illinois, New Jersey, and Canada wrapped up Rex’s baseball career after a mid-season injury forced him to miss the last half of his 2012 season with the Somerset (NJ) Patriots.
Todd gave a recent update on his oldest son to AV Club.com: “[Rex] is trying to break into the music business—not as a player, but as a support person of some kind. He wants to possibly do some engineering, he’s interested in music publishing and stuff like that—so, ironically, he’s moving away from baseball and into music.”
“They say we all turn into our parents one day, like that’s a bad thing. I’m proud to be a mix of the both of them.”–Rex Rundgren