In 1978 when he was the third string catcher for the Boston Red Sox, teammate Bill Lee jokingly told manager Don Zimmer that he only wanted Kendall to catch him because "Fred Kendall needs a purpose in life." Kendall only got into five games behind the plate that year in what was his only season on a winning team. In fact, Kendall became an expert at losing in his career, as he was a member of seven last place teams in his 12-year career, most of which was spent with the hapless San Diego Padres. He caught Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones in 1976 with San Diego before being included in a deal that sent him to Cleveland and brought highly touted outfielder George Hendrick to the Padres. His best season personally was in 1973 when he caught 138 games for the Padres, batting .282 with 10 home runs.