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Rod Carew
First baseman / Second baseman
Born: October 1, 1945 (1945-10-01) (age 64)
Gatún, Panama Canal Zone
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 11, 1967 for the Minnesota Twins
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1985 for the California Angels
Career statistics
Batting average     .328
Hits     3,053
Runs batted in     1,015
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1991
Vote     90.5% (first ballot)

Rodney Cline "Rod" Carew (born October 1, 1945) is a former Major League Baseball player. A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, he is renowned for his hitting prowess. Carew played for the Minnesota Twins and the former California Angels from 1967 to 1985. He threw right-handed and batted left-handed.

Contents

Early life

Carew is a Zonian and was born to a Panamanian mother on a train in the town of Gatún, which, at that time, was in the Panama Canal Zone. The train was racially segregated; white passengers were given the better forward cars, while non-whites, like Carew's mother, were forced to ride in the rearward cars. When she went into labor, a physician traveling on the train, Dr. Rodney Cline, delivered the baby, who was named Rodney Cline Carew in appreciation.[1]

At age 14, the Carews emigrated to the United States. He lived in the Washington Heights section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City. Although Carew attended George Washington High School, which current MLB star left fielder Manny Ramirez also attended, he never played baseball for the high school team. Instead, Carew played sandlot (semi-pro) baseball for the Bronx Cavaliers, which is where he was discovered by Minnesota Twins' scout Hal Keller. Carew then signed an amateur free agent contract with the Minnesota Twins a day after graduating.[2][3] Three years later, he was called up and became a teammate of first baseman Harmon Killebrew. In Panama, the National Baseball Stadium is named after him.

Major league career

Carew won the American League's Rookie of the Year award in 1967[1] and was an All-Star in every year but his final one, 1985. In his career, Carew won seven batting titles.

TwinsRetired29.png
Rod Carew's number 29 was retired by the Minnesota Twins in 1987

In 1972, Carew led the American League in batting, hitting .318, and remarkably, without hitting a single home run for the only time in his career; Carew is to date the only player in the American League or in the modern era to win the batting title with no home runs hit in that year. In the 1977 season, Carew batted .388, which at the time was the highest since Boston's Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, and won the American League's Most Valuable Player award.

In 1975, Carew joined Ty Cobb as the only players to lead both the American and National Leagues in batting average for three consecutive seasons. Carew achieved the feat in 1973, 1974, and 1975. Carew also stole home 17 times in his career, including seven times in the 1969 season.[1][4]

Originally a second baseman, Carew moved to first base in September 1975. In 1979, frustrated by the Twins' inability to keep young talent, and after considerable conflict with team owner Calvin Griffith[5], Carew announced his intention to leave the Twins. Carew was subsequently traded to the Angels for outfielder Ken Landreaux, catcher/first baseman Dave Engle, right-handed pitcher Paul Hartzell, and left-handed pitcher Brad Havens.[3] The Twins had been unable to complete a deal with the New York Yankees in January 1979 in which Carew would have moved to New York in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Juan Beniquez, Dámaso García, and Dave Righetti.[6]

On August 4, 1985, Carew joined an elite group of ballplayers when he got his 3,000th basehit against Minnesota Twins left-hander Frank Viola at the former Anaheim Stadium.[1] Coincidentally, Chicago White Sox right-hander Tom Seaver won his 300th career game on the same day. The 1985 season would be his last. After the season, Rod Carew, a free agent, received no contract offers from other teams. Carew suspected that baseball owners were deliberately colluding to keep him from playing. The suspicion was justified; on January 10, 1995, nearly a decade after his forced retirement, arbitrator Thomas Roberts ruled that the owners had indeed violated the rules of baseball's second collusion agreement, which they had previously agreed to abide by. Rod Carew was awarded damages equivalent to what he would have likely received in 1986: $782,036.[7]

AngelsRetired29.png
Rod Carew's number 29 was retired by the California Angels in 1991

Carew finished his career with 3,053 hits and a lifetime batting average of .328.

Carew was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, his first year of eligibility, the 22nd player so elected. In 1999, he ranked #61 on The Sporting News'' list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for Major League Baseball's All-Century Team. Carew has also been inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.

Military service

During the 1960s, Carew served a six-year commitment in the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a combat engineer.

Confusion over conversion to Judaism

Carew has never formally converted to Judaism. However, he married a Jewish woman, Marilynn Levy,[3] and his children were raised in the Jewish tradition. A chief source propagating the misconception that Carew converted to Judaism is the 1994 song, The Chanukah Song, written and performed by entertainer Adam Sandler, in which he lists famous Jews of the 20th century. He names Carew thusly: "...O.J. Simpson... not a Jew! But guess who is: Hall of Famer Rod Carew — he converted". Sandler has reiterated this mistake in later incarnations of the song.

Adding to the confusion is an article written in Esquire magazine in 1976. sportswriter Harry Stein released his "All Time All-Star Argument Starter" article which consisted of five different baseball teams, each based on ethnicity. Carew was erroneously named the second baseman on Stein's All-Jewish team.

Carew regularly attends Saddleback Church (Rick Warren, pastor, author of The Purpose-Driven Life), which is a Baptist church.

After retirement

Carew moved to the upscale community of Anaheim Hills, California while playing with the Angels and remained there upon announcing his retirement. [8] Carew has since worked as a hitting coach for the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers and is credited with helping develop young hitters like Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, and Tim Salmon.

On January 19, 2004, Panama City's National Stadium was renamed "Rod Carew Stadium".[9] In 2005, Carew was named the second baseman on the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team.

His uniform number 29 has been retired by both the Twins and the Angels.

Carew's daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with leukemia in September, 1995. Her rare Panamanian-Jewish heritage dramatically lowered possibility of finding a matching donor for a bone marrow transplant. In spite of Carew's heartfelt pleas for those of similar ethnic background to come forward, no matching donor was found. Michelle Carew died on April 17, 1996 at the age of 18. A statue of her has been installed in Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

In 2006, Carew became the spokesman for the Solid Contact Baseball company[10], based in New Canaan, Connecticut. The company has developed a product it calls the "GAP Hitter", which simulates not only fastballs, but curveballs and sliders as well. Solid Contact Baseball filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Rod Carew is still the spokesman for the device, which has been bought and is currently being rebranded.

Chewing tobacco use

Carew began using chewing tobacco in 1964 and was a regular user up to 1992, when a cancerous growth in his mouth was discovered and removed. The years of use had heavily damaged his teeth and gums, and Carew has spent a reported $100,000 in restorative dental work. [11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Pietrusza, David; Matthew Silverman; Gershman, Michael (2000). Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-34-5.  
  2. ^ "This Week In Baseball History - Week ending 10/5", Sporting News, October 8, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2008. "In 1958, the Carew family migrated to America and settled in the Washington Heights section of New York City."
  3. ^ a b c Charlton, James; Shatzkin, Mike; Holtje, Stephen (1990). The Ballplayers: baseball's ultimate biographical reference. New York: Arbor House/William Morrow. pp. 155–156. ISBN 0-87795-984-6.  
  4. ^ Stealing Home Base Records by Baseball Almanac
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ United Press International (1979-01-30). "Yankees, Twins still dickering". St. Petersburg Times. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=mBQOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QnwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6523,5452839&dq=superdome+yankees. Retrieved 2009-06-19.  
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ McCurdie, Jim (1986-10-13). "They Have Carew's Number". Los Angeles. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/58000349.html?dids=58000349:58000349&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Aug+13%2C+1986&author=JIM+McCURDIE&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=They+Have+Carew's+Number&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2008-04-15.  
  9. ^ Connor, Joe (17 January 2006). "Welcome to Panama". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/worldclassic2006/news/story?id=2291367. Retrieved 3 December 2008.  
  10. ^ "Rod Carew - Baseball Hall of Fame '91". http://www.solidcontactbaseball.com/rodcarew.html. Retrieved 2008-09-18.  

External links

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