Rodney Cline Carew was born on a train in the Panama Canal Zone on October 1, 1945. In 1962, he moved to New York with his mother to attend high school. On June 24, 1964, one day out of high school, the Minnesota Twins signed Carew as an amateur free agent.
Rod Carew was widely considered both one of the best hitters of his generation, as well as one of the game's best baserunners. In fact, considering his glove, as well, Twins' owner Calvin Griffith considered Carew in the same class as all-time greats at second base Rogers Hornsby and Charlie Gehringer.
Upon his arrival in the Majors, Carew was somewhat of a loner; considered by teammates and coaches as moody and introverted, aloof. As a Panamanian, he often experienced racism and prejudice. And when he became engaged to a Jewish woman (Marilynn Levy), he reportedly received death threats.
As he aged, he became a much more relaxed and easy-going presence in the clubhouse and more of a vocal team leader on the field, as well as a loving and dedicated family man away from it.
In 1996, Rod and Marilynn's daughter Michelle died of leukemia at the age of 18.
1967: As a twenty-one year-old rookie in 1967, Carew played 137 games. He recorded 150 hits and a .292 batting average on his way to an All-Star selection, and a nearly unanimous selection as the 1967 American League Rookie of the Year. He received 19 of the 20 votes. Boston Red Sox rookie outfielder Reggie Smith received the only other vote.
1968: Carew followed his excellent rookie campaign with a largely unspectacular season in which he played in only 127 games and batted a paltry (by his own standards, at least) .273. The '68 season was significant for one reason - it would be the last time he wouldn' post a season average over .300 until 1984 - a fifteen year span! Only Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, and Honus Wagner have produced longer such streaks in MLB history.
1969: His third season proved to be a productive one for the twenty-three year-old Carew, although he played in only 123 games. He finished the season with his first batting title, posting a .332 batting average. He also displayed great base running prowess, swiping 19 bases (including 3 in one inning on May 18, 1969). Seven of those steals were of home plate which, to this day, is the second most swipes of the plate by a player in a single season in MLB history. The only player to steal home more in one season was Ty Cobb. His impressive season earned Carew a third straight All-Star Game appearance and 10th place in the 1969 MVP voting. After the season ended, Carew and the Twins lost in the 1969 ALCS to the Baltimore Orioles.
1970: This was to be Carew's "breakout season". In fact, he got off to his hottest start ever and was elected to his fourth straight All-Star Game. But a knee injury kept him from playing in the Mid-Summer Classic, and actually ended his season after just 51 games. At the time of the injury, Rod was batting .366. The Twins lost in the ALCS for the second year in a row to the Baltimore Orioles.
1971: Carew came back from the knee injury in '71 and was able to play in 147 games, but his bat seemed to lack the "pop" that he displayed early in the 1970 season. Lingering issues with the knee likely limited him to just 6 stolen bases. He finished the season with a .307 batting average.
1972: Rod started the 1972 season healthy and in the beginning of his "prime" years. This was the year that he seemed to hit full stride as a Major League hitter. His swing had become an epic thing of beauty, admired by teammates, opposing players, and baseball fans alike. Fully recovered from his 1970 knee injury, Carew played in 142 games, collected 170 hits, and posted a respectable .318 batting average - good for his second batting crown. His impressive offensive stats were but a tease of what was to come.
1973: At the prime age of 27, Rod Carew experienced his breakout year in 1973. In 149 games, Carew posted 203 hits, led the league in triples with 11, scored 98 runs, and reached base at a .411 clip. His .350 batting average was good for his third batting title, and second in as many years. '73 was also his breakout year as a base stealer, as he stole 41 which was good for fourth in the AL. After the season, he finished 4th in the 1973 AL MVP voting.
1974: For the second consecutive year, Carew surpassed the 200-hit mark in 1974, posting 218 base-knocks (the most in all of baseball). He won his fourth batting crown (and third in a row) with a .368 batting average. His .433 on-base percentage was also good enough for best in the AL. He also stole 38 bases.
1975: Carew began playing first base with regularity in 1975. Minnesota manager Frank Quilici began doing so in the hopes of limiting wear and tear to Carew, hoping to maintain his health and extend his career. Carew handled the move with aplomb, never missing a beat. For the fourth year in a row, Rod won the batting title in '75 with a .359 average. In addition, he scored 89 runs, stole 35 bases, and drove in what at the time was a career high 80 runs.
- Signed as an amateur free agent by Minnesota Twins (June 24, 1964).
- Traded by Minnesota Twins to California Angels in exchange for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens (February 3, 1979).
- Granted free agency (November 7, 1983).
- Signed by California Angels (November 22, 1983).
- Granted free agency (November 12, 1985).
- All-Star Games: 18 appearances: 1967-1985
- Rookie of the Year: 1967
- American League MVP: 1977
- Member: 3000 Hit Club - 3053