Looking Back at Rod Carew and His Amazing Career

Former California Angels infielder Rod Carew has made his mark on the game of baseball. This is a look back on his amazing career and the impact it is still having on the game today.

Rod Carew was born on October 1st, 1945 in a town on the side of the Panama Canal. His mother found herself giving birth on a segregated train, where her Panamanian descent had her in the rear cars of the train. Carew would grow up in Panama, but emigrated with his mother to New York when he was 14 years old. It was in New York that he began playing baseball for a semi-pro baseball team, the Bronx Cavaliers. It was with this team that a scout from the Minnesota Twins organization found Carew. Carew was offered an amateur contract by the Twins In 1964, and three years later, Carew found himself being called up.

Minnesota Twins (1967-1978)

Rod Carew debuted in the pros on April 11th, 1967. He would go on to play nineteen years in the league. Those first twelve years of his career Carew spent his time with the Minnesota Twins. Instantly Carew showed signs of a superstar, earning the Rookie of the Year Award and a spot on the All-Star club. Carew was an all-star seventeen more times after his rookie year. The only time he wasn’t an all-star was during his final season.

Carew was never known for his power. He had only hit more than ten home runs twice in his career. One of those years is when Carew was flirting with a .400 batting average. He ended up with a .388 average, .449 OBP, and 100 RBIs. He would also go on to win the MVP that year, his only time doing so.

Jul 23, 2016; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Famer Rod Carew and his wife arrive at National Baseball Hall of Fame during the MLB baseball hall of fame parade of legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

California Angels (1979-1985)

When Rod Carew joined the Angels in 1979 he was supposed the be the final piece to the puzzle to help the Angels reach the promise land (the American League Playoffs). It turned out that he was as the 1979 Angels edged out the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers to win the AL West.  Carew had a fine year that season hitting .318 with three homers and 44 RBI’s.  Unfortunately for the Angels it was a short trip as Baltimore knocked out the Halos in four games to win the ALCS.

In 1982 Carew and the Angels again reached the ALCS winning their second Al West title in four years.  The Angels even took a 2-0 lead in the best of five game series, but the Milwaukee Brewers rallied to win the next three games to deny Carew and the Angels again from making the World Series. Carew again had a fine season with a .319 average with three homers and 44 RBI’s.

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That would be the final time Carew would see the post-season, however on August 4th, 1984 facing his old team the Minnesota Twins, Carew one final magical moment for the Angels and their fans.  In the third inning of the game Carew stepped to the plate against Frank Viola  and slashed a single to left field for hit number 3,000.  Angels manager came out and presented Carew with the first base bag as the 37,044 in attendance stood and cheered for more than five minutes. Carew had his place in baseball history.

On seven seasons with the Angels Carew hit .314 with 18 homers and 282 RBI’s.  In 1991 Carew took his place in baseball immortality as he was inducted in the MLB Hall of Fame earning 90.5% of the vote.

Retirement and Beyond

After this Carew went on to be the Angels batting coach from 1992-1999. During this time the Angels were never able to win their division. But, we saw the beginnings of two great Angel players in Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon during Carew’s time as hitting coach.

Most noteworthy this last year Carew received a huge accolade from the league during the all-star game. As a result of his amazing average throughout his career, the AL batting title has now been renamed after him. The player in the American League with the highest average will now be known as the “Rod Carew American League Batting Champion”. The NL counterpart was named for Tony Gwynn. Carew had won the AL batting title seven times in his career and Gwynn had won the NL title eight times. The two could not be more deserving of the praise.

 

 

Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on the field with Rod Carew before the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015 Carew suffered a heart attack while playing golf, which led to Carew’s most recent heart and kidney transplant on December 16th of this year. The surgery was considered a success. The Twins had this to say in a statement, “We ask that all of Twins Territory and the entire baseball community keep Rod, his wife Rhonda, and the entire Carew family in your thoughts and prayers as Rod recovers”. We here at Halo Hangout also would like to wish Rod a speedy recovery, and plenty more years ahead of him.

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