On Friday night, I happened to catch my first game at Target Field where the Minneapolis Twins play. (That’s baseball for the non-sports fans out there.) That happened to be the night that the Twins organization was honoring 50 of its greatest all-time players. One of those players was the great second baseman Rod Carew.
Ever since that game I’ve been thinking about Carew. When I played little league ball and in high school Carew was a hero of mine. He was an all-star second baseman, who hit singles and stole bases quite well. (A pattern I tried my best to repeat.) He is one of only 27 MLB players who has had over 3,000 career hits and he was voted into the baseball hall of fame in 1991.
According to the official Rod Carew website: “Rodney Cline Carew was born on a train in Gatun, Panama on October 1, 1945. He moved with his family to New York when he was fourteen years old, and signed with the Minnesota Twins on the day he graduated from high school.”
One vivid memory I have of watching Carew take spring training batting practice at Tinker Field in Orlando was how he would take a small towel and place it down the third base line and practice hitting bunts that would land on or near the towel. Whether bunting or swinging away he had amazing precision at hitting the ball wherever he wanted to. (Something that comes with natural born talent and lots of practice.) And no matter how far he succeeded professionally he never seemed to forget where it all started…far from the spotlight.
“There is a special sensation in getting good wood on the ball and driving a double down the left-field line as the crowd in the ballpark rises to its feet and cheers. But, I also remember how much fun I had as a skinny barefoot kid hitting a tennis ball with a broomstick on a quiet, dusty street in Panama.”
An interesting lesser known fact is Carew spent six years as a Marine in the reserves. He also wrote the autobiography Carew (along with Ira Berkow).