Rodney Cline Carew, who was born in Gatun in the Panama Canal Zone on October 1, 1945 becomes only the 22nd player in MLB history to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, garnering 90.5% of the votes.
The left-handed hitting Carew made the Twins team as the starting 2B in the spring of 1967 and went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1967 and was selected to his first All-Star game that season. Who would know at the time that Carew would be an All-Star for 18 consecutive years, missing out on the All-Star team in only his last season (1985) as an active player. Although Rodney started out as a 2B, a serious knee injury in 1970 started the process of Carew moving to 1B. By the time Carew’s 19 year big league career was over, Carew actually played at more games at 1B than he did at 2B. Carew had a magical season for the Twins in 1977 making a serious run at hitting .400 but finished the season at .388 and won the AL MVP award.
Rod Carew and owner Calvin Griffith frequently disagreed about the salary that Carew was earning with Griffith arguing that Carew was nothing but a singles hitter and Carew arguing that if he wanted to hit for power he could. But it was the ill-fated Lion’s Club speech in Waseca, Minnesota that Griffith made on September 28, 1978 that was the final nail in the coffin as far as Carew was concerned and owner Griffith had no choice but to trade his best player. According to some reports, Griffith first had a trade worked out with the San Francisco Giants but Carew had veto power and nixed that deal so on February 3, 1979 the Twins owner and GM sent Carew to the California Angels for catcher Dave Engle, outfielder Ken Landreaux, and pitchers Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens. Carew finished his career as an Angel playing there from 1979 to 1985.
Rod Carew played in the big leagues for 19 season appearing in 2,469 games finishing with 3,053 hits (2,085 as a Minnesota Twin) and putting up a lifetime .328 average to go along with his 353 stolen bases. Carew stole home seven times in the 1969 season to lead the majors, just missing Ty Cobb’s Major League record of eight and the most in the major leagues since Pete Reiser stole seven for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. His seven batting titles are surpassed only by Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn and Honus Wagner, and equaled only by Rogers Hornsby and Stan Musial.
Carew’s number is retired by both the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels and he is a member of the Twins and Angels Hall of Fame. Today Carew is a part of the Twins organization making special appearances and taking part in the Twins Spring training as a coach each season.
Another look at Griffith’s Waseca speech can be found here in the Waseca County News.
Make sure you check out my Today in Twins History page to see all the Twins news for this day in history because I only blog about some of the items you can find there.