O.J. Simpson-- not a Jew!
But guess who is...Hall of Famer Rod Carew (he converted!)

Adam Sandler, "The Chanukah Song"

One of the greatest hitters of the modern era, Rod Carew redefined contact hitting. Not blessed with incredible power, he instead used his lightning quickness to win 7 batting titles. A first-year inductee to the Hall of Fame, Carew's playing career is a testament to quick hands, quick feet, and quick eyes.

Before Baseball

"I ... remember how much fun I had as a skinny barefoot kid with a broomstick on a quiet, dusty street in Panama."

Rodney Cline Carew was born October 1, 1945, in Gatun, Panama on a train (that's right - a train). He was actually named for the doctor who helped deliver him. Carew spent most of his time playing baseball in Gatun, often using a broomstick and a rolled up sock to play. At the age of 16, he moved in with his godmother near the Polo Grounds in New York City. Like many other boys, Rod played stickball in the streets, but his ability and speed led him to a minor league contract at the age or 19.

The Big Leagues

"Your first hit in the majors - that's tops."

Carew was called up by the Minnesota Twins during spring training of 1967, where he batted .444 and earned a spot on the team. He went 2-for 4 in his first game, launching a career unparalleled by all but the best hitters of the game. After the first hit, Carew said, "then you can get the rest." He was named to the All-Star team, the first of 18 consecutive All-Star appearances. That year, he was also named American League Rookie Of The Year.

In both 1968 and 1969 Carew served in the United States Marine Reserve, which limited his playing time, but not his abilities; he won his first batting title in 1969 (though he struggled in the Twins' playoff loss). In 1969, he also had the rare distinction of stealing home 7 times - a feat only matched by the legendary Ty Cobb. Carew stole home 17 times in his career. In 1970, the second baseman was bowled over while covering the base and suffered torn cartilage, missing most of the season, although he still batted .366.

Dominance

"He's the only guy I know who can go four for three."
Alan Bannerman, opponent

From 1972 until 1978, Carew won 6 of the 7 American League batting titles, losing only once, in 1976 on the last day of the season to George Brett. He also led the league in triples twice.

Carew's best year in the majors was 1977. He batted an astounding career-high .388 (staying above .400 into August), and matched or surpassed career highs in hits, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, and RBIs. Although his hapless Twins came nowhere near winning a pennant, Carew was named American League MVP.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

"Griffith is horse spit."

By 1978, Carew was fed up with the penny-pinching tactics of the Minnesota Twins, and in particular, their owner Calvin Griffith, who also had made some questionable comments about black fans. He demanded a trade at the end of a season, and was dealt to the California Angels during spring training of 1979.

Carew picked up where he left off, batting .300 over the next 5 years and batting .412 in the 1979 American League Championship Series, although the Angels still fell to the Baltimore Orioles. In 1982, he batted .500 through the first 31 games, causing a major sensation (he eventually finished with only a .319 average). Carew retired in 1985, and was elected into the Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1991.

After Baseball

"Hitting is an art, but not an exact science."

Carew continued in baseball after his retirement, becoming hitting coach for the California Angels in 1992 and then the Milwaukee Brewers in 2000. He resigned from that position in 2001, and currently resides outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife.

Odds and Ends

  • On May 18, 1969, Carew stole second base, third base, and home - in the same inning.
  • On May 20, 1970, Carew hit for the cycle, the first Twin to do so.
  • In 1972, Rod Carew led the league in batting average - without hitting a single home run. This feat will probably never be repeated without a return to the deadball era. (Thanks to BrooksMarlin!)
  • On June 26, 1977, every fan at the Minnesota game received a Rod Carew jersey. In response, Carew went 4 for 5 with a grand slam (one of only 92 home runs in his career.)

Lifetime Statistics

 YEAR   TEAM    G   AB    R    H   D   T  HR  RBI  SB  CS   BB    K   BA
 1967 MIN AL  137  514   66  150  22   7   8   51   5   9   37   91 .292
 1968 MIN AL  127  461   46  126  27   2   1   42  12   4   26   71 .273
 1969 MIN AL  123  458   79  152  30   4   8   56  19   8   37   72 .332
 1970 MIN AL   51  191   27   70  12   3   4   28   4   6   11   28 .366
 1971 MIN AL  147  577   88  177  16  10   2   48   6   7   45   81 .307
 1972 MIN AL  142  535   61  170  21   6   0   51  12   6   43   60 .318
 1973 MIN AL  149  580   98  203  30  11   6   62  41  16   62   55 .350
 1974 MIN AL  153  599   86  218  30   5   3   55  38  16   74   49 .364
 1975 MIN AL  143  535   89  192  24   4  14   80  35   9   64   40 .359
 1976 MIN AL  156  605   97  200  29  12   9   90  49  22   67   52 .331
 1977 MIN AL  155  616  128  239  38  16  14  100  23  13   69   55 .388
 1978 MIN AL  152  564   85  188  26  10   5   70  27   7   78   62 .333
 1979 CAL AL  110  409   78  130  15   3   3   44  18   8   73   46 .318
 1980 CAL AL  144  540   74  179  34   7   3   59  23  15   59   38 .331
 1981 CAL AL   93  364   57  111  17   1   2   21  16   9   45   45 .305
 1982 CAL AL  138  523   88  167  25   5   3   44  10  17   67   49 .319
 1983 CAL AL  129  472   66  160  24   2   2   44   6   7   57   48 .339
 1984 CAL AL   93  329   42   97   8   1   3   31   4   3   40   39 .295
 1985 CAL AL  127  443   69  124  17   3   2   39   5   5   64   47 .280
 CAREER      2469 9315 1424 3053 445 112  92 1015 353 187 1018 1028 .328
* Bold denotes led league. Not eligible in 1970.

Sources

  • TheBaseballPage.com - http://www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/carewrod/default.htm
  • Baseball-Reference.com - http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/carewro01.shtml
  • BaseballLibrary.com - http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/C/Carew_Rod.stm

Further Reading

  • Carew, by Rod Carew.
  • Rod Carew: A Promise And A Dream, by James Hahn.
  • Rod Carew: Master Hitter, by Bill Libby.
  • Rod Carew's Art and Science of Hitting, by Rod Carew. This is by far the best book on good stances and how to spot a good pitch.

"I've got mad hits like I was Rod Carew"
Beastie Boys, "Sure Shot", Ill Communication

Roy Campanella | Max Carey
Hall Of Fame Index

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