Tabbed “Baseball’s Best Hitter” on the cover of TIME magazine in the summer of 1977, Rod Carew embodied the discipline required to sustain success at baseball’s highest level. Carew hit the ground running with the Minnesota Twins in 1967 when he won American League Rookie of the Year and made the first of 18 consecutive All-Star Teams en route to a Hall of Fame career. Carew, a Panamanian whose family immigrated to New York City when he was 14 years old, won his first A.L. batting title with the Twins in 1969.
Carew went on to lead the Junior Circuit in batting average for four consecutive seasons from 1972 to 1975, a feat only accomplished by five other players in MLB history – Rogers Hornsby (6), Ty Cobb (5), Honus Wagner (4), Wade Boggs (4) and Tony Gwynn (4). Along with winning his sixth career A.L. batting title in 1977, Carew was also voted the league’s Most Valuable Player after batting .388, the highest mark since Teds Williams’ own .388 in 1957.
After a seventh batting crown and 12 seasons in Minnesota, Carew was traded to the California Angels where he went on to play another seven seasons. In his final season, the sweet-swinging Carew became the 16th member of the 3,000 hit club with a single off Twins starter Frank Viola. Carew was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1991 with 90.5 percent of votes, and he remains the Twins’ all-time leader in batting average and on-base percentage. In recognition of his resounding career, in 2016 the A.L. Batting Championship trophy was named the Rod Carew Batting Championship Award by MLB.
Carew’s number 29 has since been retired by both the Twins and Angels. He is also an inductee of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame and in 2004 Panama City’s National Stadium was renamed Rod Carew Stadium in his honor. As a young adult Carew served a six-year commitment in the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a combat engineer, with which he credits much of his success on the diamond to. Carew spent much of his time post-retirement developing hitters as a coach with the Angels and Milwaukee Brewers, and he has also enjoyed competing on the golf course.
As a speaker and presenter Carew draws from his successes on the field to instill messages of discipline and determination. Drawing from the devastation caused by the loss of his 18-year-old daughter to acute myeloid leukemia in 1996, Carew can also speak on navigating and overcoming adversity. In 2015 Carew suffered a major heart attack while golfing near his home in Southern California. Following several surgeries a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) was implanted while Carew awaited a heart transplant. In December of 2016 Carew underwent successful heart and kidney transplant surgeries.
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